Tag Archives: George Hamilton

Once Upon a Crime (1992, Eugene Levy)

To sum up Levy’s direction, although Once Upon a Crime filmed entirely on location in Europe, the whole thing feels vaguely Canadian. Or, to put it another way, it’s hard to believe anyone footed Jim Belushi’s airfare to Monte Carlo to film this one.

But Levy’s only a mediocre director, the casting is the real problem. Belushi’s awful and so is Richard Lewis. The joke of the screenplay is the men are always weaker than their women, whether it’s Belushi and Cybill Shepherd (who’s okay), Lewis and Sean Young (who’s good), John Candy and Ornella Muti (more on them in a bit), or even the butler and maid (Geoffrey Andrews and Ann Way). The only subtle part in the film is this repeated power dynamic.

Maybe Levy missed it. He was too busy letting Belushi fail at acting a moron. Now, the script isn’t genius dialogue by any means, but it’s not terrible. Lewis is doing his stand-up (he’s even in his trench coat) and it doesn’t work. But Belushi simply can’t act. In the scenes opposite Candy, when Levy’s going for something out of a screwball comedy, it’s a perfect example of Candy’s ability and Belushi’s lack of it. Candy makes it work, all of it. Belushi drags every scene.

Muti’s good as Candy’s suffering wife; their scenes together are a highpoint.

The best performance is Giancarlo Giannini as the police inspector investigating the surprisingly engaging mystery.

Once Upon a Crime is a bad film, but not entirely.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Eugene Levy; screenplay by Charles Shyer, Nancy Meyers and Steve Kluger, based on an earlier screenplay by Rodolfo Sonego, Giorgio Arlorio, Stefano Strucchi and Luciano Vincenzoni and a story by Sonego; director of photography, Giuseppe Rotunno; edited by Patrick Kennedy; music by Richard Gibbs; production designer, Pier Luigi Basile; produced by Dino De Laurentiis; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Starring John Candy (Augie Morosco), James Belushi (Neil Schwary), Cybill Shepherd (Marilyn Schwary), Sean Young (Phoebe), Richard Lewis (Julian Peters), Ornella Muti (Elena Morosco), Giancarlo Giannini (Inspector Bonnard), George Hamilton (Alfonso de la Pena), Roberto Sbaratto (Detective Toussaint), Joss Ackland (Hercules Popodopoulos), Ann Way (Housekeeper) and Geoffrey Andrews (Butler).


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    Home from the Hill (1960, Vincente Minnelli)

    Whenever I see a list of “classic” films, I rarely see any of the complex character pieces Hollywood produced in the 1950s and 1960s. They produced quite a few, but none ever get much credit. Harriet Frank Jr. and Irving Ravetch wrote a few of them, but the Paul Newman films are–as Paul Newman films–better known than Home from the Hill. I first saw Hill back when I was watching Eleanor Parker films and I’ve probably seen it once since then, just to watch the laserdisc. Like many films I saw seven years ago, I don’t remember a lot about it. The best way to remember a lot about a film is to write about it for a class or something (I doubt these posts will ingrain themselves like actual research did for Mr. Deeds Goes to Town). For example, I forgot how fast Home from the Hill moves along. Thirty-seven minutes passes with the snap of the fingers. It’s a longer film too, 150 minutes, and it’s either got a ten minutes first act or a fifty-five minute one. I’d have to be graded on it to make a judgement.

    Home from the Hill features a quintessential Robert Mitchum performance. He’s a Texan land baron who hunts, drinks and philanders. He’s got a wife–Parker–and son, George Hamilton, he has nothing to do with and an illegitimate son, George Peppard, he’s got everything to do with. Each of these characters has an incredibly complex relationship with one another and–for a film with a lot of sweeping camerawork–Minnelli is incredibly gentle with the way he explores the relationships. The editing of the film, the physical cutting between shot to shot, is imperfect, but there are these wonderful moments in the film when Minnelli just lets big things go little. Big things go unsaid. It’s lovely. The film’s extreme beauty in these evolving character relationships, the way they change and their changing value for the audience. It’s some of the finest family work ever done in film (seeing it makes me wonder if Spielberg has seen it, based on his work in Jaws–P.T. Anderson might not have seen it, but he’s seen Jaws I’m sure). It’s a different type of family work then something like Ordinary People, almost an entirely subset. In many ways, the modern Japanese family drama handles camerawork in the same ways.

    The acting is excellent. It’s some of Mitchum’s best work and Parker’s great, but it’s the two Georges who surprised me the first time I saw it and surprised me again today. Besides looking identical to a young Anthony Perkins, Hamilton is great. Nuanced, subtle, had a lot of difficult stuff to do. He’s become a joke. So has Peppard. He’s remembered for “The A-Team,” but his performance in Home from the Hill is indicative of a “star quality” the 1960s rarely produced. Peppard’s performance is even more impressive. Mercury Theater member Everett Sloane has a small role–he’s unrecognizable, or at least was to me–and even he has a complex relationship with the characters. Frank and Ravetch adapted a novel, so I’m not sure how much of the structuring was theirs and how much was from the source (after finding out the structure of The Killing is from the novel, no one gets undue credit), but the film’s laid out brilliantly. Again, it’s worth a graded essay, but this post will have to do.

    Warner Bros. is rumored to have the film in the works for DVD–I watched my LaserDisc, which is actually rotting, my first experience with that malady–hopefully by the end of this year.

    4/4★★★★

    CREDITS

    Directed by Vincente Minnelli; screenplay by Harriet Frank Jr. and Irving Ravetch, based on the novel by William Humphrey; director of photography, Milton R. Krasner; edited by Harold F. Kress; music by Bronislau Kaper; produced by Edmund Grainger and Sol C. Siegel; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

    Starring Robert Mitchum (Capt. Wade Hunnicutt), Eleanor Parker (Hannah Hunnicutt), George Peppard (Rafe Copley), George Hamilton (Theron Hunnicutt), Everett Sloane (Albert Halstead), Luana Patten (Libby Halstead), Anne Seymour (Sarah Halstead), Constance Ford (Opal Bixby), Ken Renard (Chauncey) and Ray Teal (Dr. Reuben Carson).


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    THIS FILM IS ALSO DISCUSSED IN SUM UP | ELEANOR PARKER, PART 2: TECHNICOLOR.