Saturday, November 5, 2011

Jason goes to Not Necessarily Noir II--THE KILLERS (1964) and PLAY MISTY FOR ME

I love the lineup for the Roxie's Not Necessarily Noir II series. It goes through next Tuesday, but started last night with a bang.

First up, THE KILLERS. This in the 1964 Don Siegel-directed remake, not the 1946 version, which I've never seen but I hear is a classic. In this version, two hitmen (Lee Marvin and Clu Gallagher) knock off an auto mechanic teaching in a blind school (John Cassavetes). He offers no resistance, and that bothers Lee Marvin's character. He just has to find out why. So he digs, and finds that mechanic was a race car driver brought down by a dame (Angie Dickinson). He was lured into a world of crime, led by ruthless crime boss Jack Browning (Ronald Reagan, in his final movie role). There's something enormously satisfying about watching Ronald Reagan slap Angie Dickinson and then John Cassavetes responding by punching Reagan in the face. Oh yeah, and Reagan's assistant/partner in crime is Mickey Farmer, played by Norman Fell. It took me an embarrassingly long time to recognize him as Mr. Roper from "Three's Company."

And then the second half of the double bill was PLAY MISTY FOR ME. Clint Eastwood stars in his directorial debut, playing a late-night disc jockey Dave Garver with an overly obsessed fan Evelyn Draper (Jessica Walter). It was fine when she just called every night asking him to play Misty. And it was even okay when she met him at a bar after work and let him think he picked her up when in reality it was vice-versa. And it was okay when they had one night of mutually agreed upon no-attachments sex. But when she started showing up at his house unannounced, it was not okay. And when her obsession went into overdrive and she pulled out all the stops (even a suicide attempt) to stay with him, it was less and less okay. To complicate things further, Dave is trying to leave his "player" past behind and focus on getting back together with his old flame Tobie (Donna Mills) who just blew back to town unannounced (side note, that town is Carmel-by-the-Sea, where Clint Eastwood would later serve as mayor. So the theme of the night was actors who appeared in other films with monkeys and who later got into politics.) Plus he has a big career opportunity in San Francisco. Evelyn, of course, will mess all that up. There's a big final-act twist which I won't reveal. But I will say I saw it from a mile away because I remembered a bit of poetry from high school. Seeing as how Eastwood's character is all about reading poetry on air between the music, I found it a little hard to believe that he didn't also recognize the poem, it's a pretty famous one. But then the money scene (which I also won't reveal) at the very end made me forget everything else. That scene alone is worth the price of admission.

Total Running Time: 197 minutes
My Total Minutes: 254,494

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