Sunday, February 3, 2019
Huge Clint Eastwood admirer here. But I've decided that this is the worst movie he's ever made. I admit I never saw the western he made with Ginger Rogers but I have to think that was at least more competently put together than this.
Clint plays an Arizona deputy sheriff named Coogan (no other name) who, following minimal set-up, comes to New York City to extradite hippie-cum-biker-cum-sleazoid Don Stroud back to Arizona for a crime committed there. I can't remember what crime because it's only mentioned in passing. It's not like they opened the movie showing us what villainy Stroud had perpetrated. Instead, the first scene is a cold opening in which Coogan brutalizes a native American then handcuff's the guy outside the house of a married woman where Coogan makes a mid-day booty call!
Surprise, surprise, Stroud gets away from Clint who spends the last 3/4 of the movie chasing him around the city. The police are little help except to always show up minutes too late to exchange witty banter with Clint. They keep calling him "Tex" and he keeps reminding them that he's from Arizona. Hilarious, right?
The action in New York is sparse for a movie like this. Mostly Coogan just wanders around Manhattan acting like a heel and sneering at everything in endless B roll footage. Even the grimy splendor of late 60s New York is lost because all of the urban decay scenes were shot on all-too-familiar Universal backlots and populated with lots of white extras in unconvincing costumes.
There is quite a bit of gratuitous nudity in plenty of the kind of naughty hippie scenes that grindhouse flicks used to be loaded with in this period.
The usually effective Stroud is little more than a stand-in here to provide Clint someone to chase around. And even the chase is a bore. Clint follows a hippie chick on foot from somewhere in the city to locate Stroud so they can have an extended motorcycle chase that occurs along the banks of the Hudson on the other side of the old Tappan Zee. Boy, that was a LONG walk. The motorcycle chase was edited with little interest for continuity, tension or pacing.
The script is by Dean Reisner who Clint hired quite a bit though for what reason I have no idea. His work is always illogical, contrived and cliched. The great Don Siegel is here as director but probably only for his ability to get film in the can rapidly. There's none of his usual flair and great touch with actors in evidence here.
I strongly suspect that Clint and Don agreed to make this fastplay actioner so that Universal would allow them to do the edgier THE BEGUILED. And it sure looks like a contractual obligation effort probably shot over a month's time using a TV crew on hiatus from Adam-12.