Monday, May 30, 2016

There Was a Crooked Man... (1970)

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Writers: David Newman, Robert Benton

Composer: Charles Strouse

Starring: Kirk Douglas, Henry Fonda, Hume Cronyn, Warren Oates, Burgess Meredith, John Randolph, Lee Grant, Arthur O'Connell, Martin Gabel, Michael Blodgett, C.K. Yank, Alan Hale Jr.

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Once upon a time, there was a crooked man. When he was good, he was very, very good. And when he was bad, it was murder...

Plot: A charming but totally ruthless criminal is sent to a remote Arizona prison. He enlists the help of his cellmates in an escape attempt with the promise of sharing his hidden loot.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.


What the hell was this?   First of all the tone is fucked up.  Charles Strouse's score is inappropriately silly.  He hit the film scoring scene with BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967) so he's essentially known for more of a pop music score guy at this point.  It worked beautifully for B&C but not for this one.  My biggest issue with the picture is the odd tone.  If the filmmakers took it more seriously this could be a pretty damn good flick.  Hell, it's got a great friggin' cast.  Douglas is fun but he's also an asshole who's only out for himself.  The movie's just over two hours and a half hour from the end his escape plan is enacted.  During this several minute sequence the shit hits the fan and people silly music.  And they die horrible.  It's pretty harsh and for some of them it's not cool how they snuff it.  Normally this wouldn't be an issue with me but the music contradicts the visual making me wonder if Strouse knew what the hell he was doing.  This is an instance where the score severely hurts the film.  I'm willing to bet that the right composer would've been able to make something much better out of this.  I can't blame the composer entirely.  There were other people involved that should've stepped in and done something about it.  Or it's possible that this is exactly what the director, producers and studio wanted.  The Warner Bros. DVD delivers a nice anamorphic widescreen print with 3 extras - a ten minute vintage making of featurette and the trailer for this film and one for THE DUKES OF HAZZARD: THE BEGINNING (both non-anamorphic widescreen).  Really?  The Dukes of fucking Hazzard straight to video movie?  I'm flummoxed.

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