(US - 1985)
Written and directed by Bryan Forbes. Cast: Roger Moore, Rod Steiger, Elliott Gould, Anne Archer, Art Carney, David Hedison, Ron Parady, Deanna Dunagan, John Kapelos, Jimmie F. Skaggs, Dick Sollenberger, Cynthia Baker Schuyler, Virginia Smith. (R, 105 mins)
Action movies and ninjas may have been what kept the lights on during their heyday, but Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus wanted to take Cannon in a classier direction. Occasional prestige projects like Jason Miller's THAT CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON (1982) would get made, but it wasn't until 1984 that Golan & Globus started to actively court respectable filmmakers who were on the outs with Hollywood or fed up with playing the major studio game: 1984 saw the release of John Cassavetes' LOVE STREAMS and Golan's own Woody Allen-esque OVER THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE, while 1985 brought Robert Altman's FOOL FOR LOVE, Liliana Cavani's THE BERLIN AFFAIR, and two American films from famed Russian auteur Andrei Konchalovsky with MARIA'S LOVERS and RUNAWAY TRAIN. With the late 1984 hit MISSING IN ACTION, and then the likes of MISSING IN ACTION 2: THE BEGINNING, DEATH WISH 3, INVASION, U.S.A., and AMERICAN NINJA, 1985 was really the year that Cannon blew up and that beautiful logo became a weekly staple in American multiplexes. However, there were several big-star Cannon offerings in 1985 that, for various reasons, fell through the cracks and didn't get much exposure: Anthony Harvey's offbeat dark comedy GRACE QUIGLEY, an unlikely pairing of Katharine Hepburn and Nick Nolte in a doomed production whose troubles began when original director Hal Ashby quit during pre-production and ended with the film existing in three different versions that satisfied no one; Desmond Davis' Agatha Christie adaptation ORDEAL BY INNOCENCE, starring Donald Sutherland, Faye Dunaway, and Christopher Plummer; J. Lee Thompson's THE AMBASSADOR, a very loose adaptation of Elmore Leonard's 52 Pick-Up, with Robert Mitchum, Ellen Burstyn, and Rock Hudson in his final big-screen appearance; and THE ASSISI UNDERGROUND, written and directed by Polish author Alexander Ramati and based on his own novel, dealing with the Catholic Church's rescue of Italian Jews from the Nazis. ASSISI, starring CHARIOTS OF FIRE's Ben Cross, Maximilian Schell, Irene Papas, and James Mason in his last film (it was released over a year after his death), was originally a three-hour epic that Cannon chopped down to two before they stealthily unveiled it in a few markets.
Turk Thrust, the guitar-strumming attendant at the nudist colony visited by Inspector Clouseau in Blake Edwards' A SHOT IN THE DARK (1964). Forbes also produced and co-wrote Basil Dearden's doppelganger suspense thriller THE MAN WHO HAUNTED HIMSELF (1970), regularly cited by Moore as his personal favorite performance of his career. Forbes took the job and THE NAKED FACE was shot entirely on location in Chicago in the fall of 1983 when Moore had some downtime between OCTOPUSSY and A VIEW TO A KILL. During this period, Moore also managed to fit in a cameo as a post-plastic surgery Clouseau in 1983's misbegotten CURSE OF THE PINK PANTHER, where he was credited as "Turk Thrust II" as an inside joke for his buddy Forbes that's more amusing than anything in the movie.
OVER THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE). Loud, bad-tempered bigot McGreevy thinks Stevens is the killer and has something to hide, so he harasses the doctor mercilessly, probing every aspect of his life to find incriminating evidence against him. McGreevy's beef with Stevens is personal: several years earlier, McGreevy's former partner was killed by a perp who got to plead insanity thanks to Stevens' testimony. McGreevy ignores any leads that don't involve arresting Stevens, and even when two gunmen break into his apartment and try to kill him, Stevens still can't convince McGreevy that someone is trying to kill him. Angeli sees that McGreevy is trying to railroad Stevens and gets him taken off the case, which then adds him to McGreevy's endless shit list. While Angeli actually works the case, Stevens resorts to eccentric private eye Morgens (Art Carney), who finds a bomb planted in Stevens' car and quickly finds out who's causing all the mayhem, as McGreevy secretly follows Angeli to stay peripherally involved in the case, plotting his next move.
score by Michael J. Lewis, is that once the antagonist and their motivation are revealed, your response will likely be along the lines of "And?!" It seems like a lot of people are killed for not much of a reason, and having the villain order his flunkies to kidnap Stevens and bring him to his base of operations so he can talk and talk and over-explain his motive and address Stevens in a dismissive tone seems like something that would happen in a 007 movie. Forbes also changes the ending of the book in a way that does nothing to help the film, which fades to black on a truly bizarre note that doesn't seem to know the difference between "open-ended ambiguity" and "opening a whole new can of worms." The ending of the film wants to be a shocking twist, but it's handled very poorly and comes off as botched and clumsy.
outburst to Danny Aiello in the otherwise insignificant THE JANUARY MAN (1989), but still, the incomparable Steiger is on fire in THE NAKED FACE.
|Sir Roger Moore in a publicity photo
for his 2014 memoir One Lucky Bastard