Written by / 4/30/2016 / No comments / , , , , , ,

CAAN & DUVALL UNDER PECKINPAH FOR 'THE KILLER ELITE'

Year of Release: 1975
It takes two GODFATHER actors: the already iconic and borderline legendary James Caan and Robert Duvall, to perfectly kickstart a movie about a secret operation even "worse" than the CIA (are portrayed on screen) acting like a couple slap-happy Playboys, or, perhaps, the way they really were with each other behind the scenes, laughing with delicious inside quips, throwing dirty jokes back and forth, cracking wise and unwise about women and yet only one of them guffaws about the other's possible venereal disease... For themselves, a hilarious moment indeed...

Duvall and Caan
All in a car driving over the Golden Gate bridge shot by director Sam Peckinpah in a modern setting... Starts out with a building exploding and Caan and Duvall, as Mike and George, harboring a "snitch" who... Let's just say things don't go well for this man, and his future turns out much worse than a horrible, game-changing injury for Caan's Mike after a double-cross that's extremely suspenseful, in fact even more-so than most films being that, after experiencing two pals acting like they've known each other since grade school, Duvall's sudden transition, taking place fully-clothed, sitting on a toilet seat, gun in hand with an icy stare... especially contrasted to the funny guy he was minutes before... And in another minute's time, Caan's Mike winds up with a busted knee cap and one nearly dead arm, and some of the best, most personal scenes occur in the hospital thereafter.

Caan Vs Duvall
A movie today would never spend so much energy on a man's struggle to regain his physical worth. And after a montage, wherein he's first taken inside the operating room, lasting a good five minutes as we struggle with Caan, witnessing an ultra realistic surgery that, in the vein of BULLITT, shows the arduous process that usually, only those allowed "behind the tape" can witness...

Bo knows Sam
Upon a slow process of healing within the San Fransisco setting, often being humiliated in public when he can't keep his stance, Caan's determination to "get back to work" is practically an impossible one, but for us to get so involved, it takes a great actor with a topnotch director, the latter hitting his peak which would (arguably) end with CROSS OF IRON two years later, to bring us into the pain and suffering as the underline, peripheral plot seems to be the obvious payback to Duvall's double-agent, stuck in Caan's mind the whole way through his teeth-clenching resurrection, sporadically soothed by a too-perfect nurse that brings out an almost too comfortable performance from Caan...

JC with former CFF friend Alice Friedland, what happened?
And after an action-packed Asian mobster plot is introduced in martial arts antics at an airport (one of several other things, including the town itself, reminiscent of BULLITT), ironically, things wane a bit, but only because the film becomes too busy and convoluted, seeming to bustle out of Peckinpah's natural wheelhouse as an attempt to join, equal or surpass the popular Political Thriller genre liken to 3 DAYS OF THE CONDOR along with the Kung Fu craze, with Bruce Lee still on everyone's mind...

Bo Hopkins in ELITE
In all this, Bo Hopkins, as a deadly hit man more on the darker side of things, is not only a Peckinpah stock actor but brings us back down to the fan-familiar "Bloody Sam" level, and he alone is far more intriguing than the one-note idealist, Burt Young, an old friend of Caan's and usually (like in ROCKY and CHINATOWN) an edgy, crooked sort but here, as the opposite of Hopkins cold-blooded yet effective hired-gun, seems to, along with an untrusting Caan, keep Bo's borderline schizo Jereme more KILLER delete than ELITE, perhaps an apology from Peckinpah himself to his own Hollywood clique: the Left Wing who Sam completely agreed with but that, after the ultra-violent WILD BUNCH and the unfairly maligned and misunderstood rape scene in STRAW DOGS, typecast him as a sort of extremely violent "fascist" (an actual term from a critic) filmmaker.

EliteScore: ***
But the eclectic (looking and acting) trio of Caan, Hopkins and Young works to shift from a solo-healing to an espionage ensemble leading to conversations that better be paid attention to, and then an all-out shootout on a dockside and, not to spoil things, but this thriller goes on far, far too long after Caan accomplishes what should have been the mere peak of the climb, vendetta style, which turns out secondary, or even third or fourth tier, making Duvall's previous and overall input not that important...

Just Purchased Twilight Time Blu Ray
And liken to that same year's (Bronson) vehicle, BREAKOUT, the incredible actor... one of the best in the world... is underused: a blasphemous sin since in APOCALYPSE NOW, Robert Duvall does more with twenty minutes than most can use for two-and-a-half hours on screen. He seems a mere guest to Caan's lead, which is fine. But less of a supporting role would have upped the suspense, slackened the often hard to follow page-turning espionage, thus being more Sydney Pollock than Peckinpah, or the works of one of the guest stars, author Tom Clancy: Yet still, for a Bloody Sam film, there is fantastic editing and the usual slow-motion deaths along with a more standard, structured Jerry Fieling score; and perhaps Sam's involvement in this cerebral genre, which ironically he ended his career with (not on purpose... he died after) in the clunky yet entertaining OSTERMAN WEEKEND, was, especially in this case, needed to show he could turn a modern political-thriller flick into an old school, shoot-em'-up Western. For no matter what the date, or setting, the Wild West seemed to be built into Sam Peckinpah's very soul. And was his legacy.
Share This Post :
Tags : , , , , , ,

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

All Time Popular

Featured Post

OLIVER REED IN MICHAEL WINNER'S BRITISH NEW WAVE 'THE SYSTEM'

Oliver Reed & Jane Merrow Year: 1964 Rating: ***** THE GIRL-GETTERS is really THE SYSTEM as the other title makes little sense — and alt...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Most Popular Last Year

WWW.CULTFILMFREAKS.COM

WWW.CULTFILMFREAKS.COM
Movie Reviews, Interviews, Articles and Pop Culture from White Heat to Blue City

UPCOMING ARTICLE/REVIEW

UPCOMING ARTICLE/REVIEW
Orson Welles classic film noir melodrama THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI

TOTAL HITS

Popular Trending

FOUNDED BY JAMES M. TATE

FOUNDED BY JAMES M. TATE
RANDOM QUOTE: "I never make the same mistake twice... I make it hundreds of times." Oliver Reed, The System

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK

FILM NOIR & NEO FILM NOIR


"One false move and you're over your head."

FAVORITES SHORTLIST

1)THE CROWDED SKY 2)THE FEARMAKERS 3)JAWS 4)RAIDERS FROM BENEATH THE SEA 5)ANATOMY OF A MURDER 6)HOT CARS 7)VIOLENT SATURDAY 8)CANYON PASSAGE 9)THE MAN FROM LARAMIE 10)HARDCORE 11)CURSE OF THE DEMON 12)THE DEFECTOR 13)SHARKS' TREASURE 14)ROYAL FLASH 15)DUEL IN THE JUNGLE 16)OTLEY 17)ASH WEDNESDAY 18)THE SERGEANT 19)SWEENEY TWO 20)THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN 21)THE ROARING TWENTIES 22)FALLEN ANGEL 23)AL CAPONE 24)THE ASPHALT JUNGLE 25)AIR PATROL 26)KILLER FISH 27)THE SYSTEM 28)WHITE HEAT 29)EASY LIVING 30)COMPULSION 31)ATLANTIC CITY 32)WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS 33)JUNGLE STREET 34)MADISON AVENUE 35)THE SHARKFIGHTERS 36)DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS 37)MY BLOOD RUNS COLD 38)THE LINEUP 39)SWAMP WATER 40)THE DAY THEY ROBBED THE BANK OF ENGLAND 41)RUMBLE FISH 42)CANYON RIVER 43)THE HEARSE 44)WILLIAM CONRAD'S BRAINSTORM 45)CORVETTE SUMMER 46)THE DRIVER 47)FRENZY 48)HOUSE OF STRANGERS 49)THE KILLING 50)FORCE TEN FROM NARAVONE 51)BULLITT 52)ROBBERY 53)THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE 54)KISS TOMORROW GOODBYE 55)HOTEL 56)THE BREAK 57)CRIME WAVE 58)BRANNIGAN 59)THE STONE KILLER 60)BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA

ACTORS 1)DANA ANDREWS 2)JAMES CAGNEY 3)MARLON BRANDO 4)JACK NICHOLSON 5)ORSON WELLES 6)PETER O'TOOLE 7)TOM COURTENAY 8)CHARLES BRONSON 9)GENE HACKMAN 10)VICTOR MATURE ACTRESSES 1)VIRGINIA MAYO 2)SUE LYON 3)GENE TIERNEY 4)MERRY ANDERS 5)FAYE DUNAWAY DIRECTORS 1)JACQUES TOURNEUR 2)RICHARD FLEISCHER 3)STANLEY KUBRICK 4)ORSON WELLES 5)OTTO PREMINGER 6)JOHN CARPENTER 7)MAURY DEXTER 8)JOHN LANDIS 9)MICHAEL WINNER 10)SAM PECKINPAH

WESTERN GENRE REVIEWS

BRITISH NEW WAVE/NEO NOIR

RARITIES & EXPLOITATION

Popular This Month

CINEMA OF DANA ANDREWS

TRIPPING INTO THE SIXTIES

TARGETING THE SEVENTIES

KICKING IN THE EIGHTIES

TALES AND REFLECTIONS

RETURN TO THE HOMEPAGE