Well, I’ve been out of town a couple of days so I have fallen a little behind on the blog. Vegas is great for a couple of days and then it is time to get out and that’s what we did. While I was there, I did do a little experiment related to this blog. The only copies of this movie I could find where old VHS tapes that were marked up substantially or were being auctioned, so I might not be able to get my hands on it. I checked i-tunes however, and it is available there for purchase or rent. Since I would not be able to transfer it to a DVD anyway, I decided I would rent it. This is the first time I’ve rented on i-tunes. I have some movies that I bought, but I was not familiar with how the whole process worked. You get access for a month but the minute you start watching your movie a clock starts running and your rental expires in 24 hours. I took this movie with me to Vegas, and I thought since it was on the i-pod that the 24hour limit might not matter. I was wrong on that count, the i-pod indicated a countdown had begun, there is even a little warning when you start so if you want to wait longer you can. So this is the first movie I have rented for the project, the first digital rental I have ever done, and the first movie for this project that I watched on a really small screen.
This is a thriller from John Huston, that I’ll bet most people have not seen, in fact there are probably a lot of you out there that have never even heard of it. I don’t recall any reviews from the time the movie came out, and I don’t know how successful it was. Most of us nowadays are used to seeing box office returns being reported on every Monday morning. Prior to E.T., most box office was only know widely in the film industry. Occasionally a movie like the Godfather, Goldfinger, Jaws or Star Wars became a cultural phenomenon, and then there would be press coverage. Clearly this movie does not fall into that category, so it’s level of artistic and financial success are something you would have to dig up. Like a great many of the movies on this list, it is of it’s time, and reflects the world of the 1970. Most of it is set in London, but there are sequences in Ireland and Malta as well. Because it deals with thieves, spies, and prison in a realistic way, there is not much of the glamor left over from the mod 60’s here. In fact, there is a nice sense of the oppressiveness that wore out the English political scene in the 70’s.
I could not remember but two things from this film before I re saw it; the prisoner’s clothing for the high risk prisoners was distinguished by bright yellow graphic patterns and that the gun Paul Newman uses toward the end of the movie was an automatic that looked pretty distinct and weird to me. If you look at the trailer above, you will see how the gun is used to create a memorable graphic for the movie.
This is probably why I remembered the gun, because I remembered the poster. The plot of the movie is actually quite complicated, and that makes the tag line “whoever he is, he’s not what you think” pretty accurate. In my head, this would sit on a shelf with another movie on my list, that I have not seen since it opened, “The Black Windmill” with Michael Caine. They are both blurry spy thrillers from the 70’s that featured actors I would usually be willing to go see. The Mackintosh Man features a pairing of Paul Newman and James Mason nearly 10 years before their film “The Verdict”. I haven’t looked to see if they did any more films together, both were nominated for Academy Awards for the Verdict. This current movie was not an award type of film, but there was good suspense and some unique elements that are worth seeing it for. I want to make particular note of the music score by Maurice Jarre, it is elegant and haunting in a manner very similar to “The Third Man”, a comparison that I’m sure was not accidental. Just a couple of years later, Jarre would score Huston’s masterpiece, “The Man Who Would Be King”.
Since this blog is not just about movie reviews, but also an attempt to help me avoid forgetting everything that makes me who I am (as well as letting my kids pass on stories when I am gone), I will mention one last thing about the movie going experience. I opened a closet with skeletons I did not know would be there when I mentioned that I saw this with a date, a girl I am not currently married to. This made my wife very irritable, I guess I was not supposed to exist as a romantic character in any context other then our own. I have thought of Robin, the ice-skater from Granada Hills maybe a half dozen times over the last 37 years, you would think I took her out last night from the stink eye Dolores gave me when I told her about this. My suggestion to everyone else, write a memoir for your kids, but don’t let anyone see it until after you are dead, otherwise that point might come earlier than you expect.