Tag Archives: Tom Selleck

Bunco (1977, Alexander Singer)

One of the best parts of Bunco–and there’s actually a lot of good stuff in it–is how director Signer composes his shots of “leads” Robert Urich and Tom Selleck. Even though Urich’s top-billed and has a little more to do, Singer makes sure to get both men in each shot. So there’s some occasionally awesome shots just from that star making technique.

Urich and Selleck got the quotation marks because they really aren’t the leads in their own pilot. Donna Mills runs the majority of the episode. She’s the undercover cop, in danger from the con man the boys can’t catch. Alan Feinstein plays the con man. He’s fantastic, far more dynamic than Urich or Selleck.

The leads have some amusing conversations, but they’re barely in it except to run around.

Oh, and Michael Sacks is bad as the big villain. But it’s otherwise, very entertaining stuff.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Alexander Singer; written and produced by Jerrold L. Ludwig; director of photography, Gene Polito; edited by Marjorie Fowler and Bill Mosher; music by John Carl Parker.

Starring Robert Urich (Walker), Tom Selleck (Gordean), Milt Kogan (Lt. Hyatt), Donna Mills (Frankie), Michael Sacks (Dixon), Marlene Clark (Nickey), Alan Feinstein (Sonny), Kenneth Mars (Bank manager) and Diana Scarwid (Lolly).


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High Road to China (1983, Brian G. Hutton)

Upon hearing John Barry’s beautiful opening titles music, I realized it was unlikely High Road to China would live up to its score. It does not. It does, however, at times, come rather close.

The film takes place in the twenties, with Bess Armstrong as a flapper who hires WWI veteran Tom Selleck to fly her to Afghanistan to find her father. Selleck’s rough and tumble, Armstrong’s perky and assured; they don’t get along. But unfortunately, Road isn’t a travel picture. The 1,200 mile part of their journey is done completely between scenes. It cuts down on the bantering between the two–but also cuts down on their expected romance.

About thirty minutes in, after they reach Afghanistan, the plotting becomes more predictable. They encounter a warlord–Brian Blessed camping it up in brown-face–and have to escape. Then they get another passenger (Cassandra Gava, in the film’s worst performance) and discover they have to keep going. It should be a quest picture… but it’s not.

Jack Weston is excellent as Selleck’s sidekick. For most of the runtime, the film’s salient character relationship is between the two men; both are broken down and marking time. None of the other actors make an impression–except Robert Morley. He’s awful.

Armstrong and Selleck are both fantastic; Armstrong gets a little more to do.

Besides the weak plotting, the film’s real drawback is director Hutton. Even when he’s competent, his work is never good enough for the actors.

Still, it’s not bad.

2/4★★

CREDITS

Directed by Brian G. Hutton; screenplay by Sandra Weintraub and S. Lee Pogostin, based on the novel by Jon Cleary; director of photography, Ronnie Taylor; edited by John Jympson; music by John Barry; production designer, Robert W. Laing; produced by Fred Weintraub; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Bess Armstrong (Eve), Tom Selleck (O’Malley), Jack Weston (Struts), Wilford Brimley (Bradley Tozer), Robert Morley (Bentik), Brian Blessed (Suleman Khan), Cassandra Gava (Alessa), Michael Sheard (Charlie), Lynda La Plante (Lina), Timothy Carlton (Officer), Shayur Mehta (Ahmed), Terry Richards (Ginger), Robert Lee (Zura), Anthony Chinn (General Wong), Ric Young (Kim Su Lee), Timothy Bateson (Alec Wedgeworth) and Wolf Kahler (Von Hess).


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Lassiter (1984, Robert Young)

Lassiter suffers from a definite lack of charisma. Not from leading man Tom Selleck, who looks a tad too tall to be a jewel thief, but from his leading ladies, Jane Seymour and Lauren Hutton. Seymour plays the girlfriend, which should give Lassiter an edge–if Seymour and Selleck had any chemistry together. Sadly, they don’t. Maybe it’s because Seymour’s two feet shorter than Selleck, maybe it’s because her performance is so tepid. As for Hutton… she’s laughable as a Nazi witch.

Her sidekick, Warren Clarke, however… he’s good.

All of Lassiter‘s supporting cast is outstanding–Joe Regalbuto, Ed Lauter, Bob Hoskins–so when Seymour’s off-screen and Hutton isn’t around, it’s a much better movie.

But Lassiter‘s other big problem–and one recasting can’t help–is the lack of story. Selleck’s jewel thief has to rob the German embassy in 1939 London. While the film beautifully creates the period (Peter Mullins’s production design is fantastic), there’s not a lot of story. David Taylor’s script tries to get a lot of kilometers out of Hoskins’s vicious thug of a cop, but it just doesn’t work. Hoskins is more of a danger than the Nazis and Lassiter‘s an attempt at an amiable thriller. There’s no place for noir elements whatsoever.

It’s hard to blame Young for that failing. His direction is never particularly impressive, but it’s never bad. It’s just a faulty project, but a mostly pleasant one.

Selleck’s good, Ken Thorne’s score is excellent. Lassiter‘s positively mediocre.

2/4★★

CREDITS

Directed by Robert Young; written by David Taylor; director of photography, Gilbert Taylor; edited by Benjamin A. Weissman; music by Ken Thorne; production designer, Peter Mullins; produced by Albert S. Ruddy; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Tom Selleck (Nick Lassiter), Jane Seymour (Sara Wells), Lauren Hutton (Kari Von Fursten), Bob Hoskins (Inspector John Becker), Joe Regalbuto (Peter Breeze), Ed Lauter (Smoke), Warren Clarke (Max Hofer), Edward Peel (Sgt. Allyce), Paul Antrim (Askew), Christopher Malcolm (Quaid) and Barrie Houghton (Eddie Lee).


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Runaway (1984, Michael Crichton)

Given the star and the director, it shouldn’t be surprising Runaway is rather conservative. And, given the endless kissing montage over the end credits, it also appears to have been geared toward female viewers (but with Selleck, that one isn’t a surprise either). As science fiction, Runaway is very, very safe. It’s an unexciting safe. It’s even a little sturdy. While Crichton’s choice to cast Gene Simmons is ludicrous, his brand of 1980s futurism is–though obviously budget-conscious–excellent. The robots in the movie have not changed the world, they’re simply new additions to a familiar landscape. Crichton’s always been good with that aspect of science fiction filmmaking, the problems come when he’s got to come up with a plot.

Runaway, for example, does not have much of a plot. It takes place over two or three days, has countless filler sequences of Selleck in peril (in the first twenty minutes, so it seems unlikely he’s in any danger), and is kind of an extended chase story. There are some big plot holes (cops who go missing, spectacular murders unreported), but it gets, predictably, from A to B to C. Along the way, there’s some good acting from Selleck, who both manages not to look embarrassed in the silly future outfit and to maintain some decorum during his scenes with son Joey Cramer. Cramer’s performance is hilariously awful and suggests Simmons might have turned in a better one with some direction, which Crichton was apparently not providing to anyone. Cynthia Rhodes is fine, though her character is absurd. Stan Shaw and G.W. Bailey are both good in smaller roles.

What Crichton manages to do, after a while, is get some good action sequences going. There’s an excellent chase scene and, at the end, he manages to get some solid effect from a wholly predictable (and forecast in the first five minutes) sequence. Crichton’s not a dynamic director–almost every shot is a walking-and-talking shot–but he works really well with rear screen projection. Oddly, those sequences are also the only ones with really impressive work from cinematographer John A. Alonzo. The rest of the time, Alonzo shoots the movie like all they’ve got are fluorescents. Crichton’s composing his shots pre-pan and scan Panavision here, so it’s hard for there not to be a good shot every few minutes.

Most of Runaway hinges on Selleck’s likability, just because there’s very little momentum to the movie. The journey to the near future, which lasts well into the second act, is only so interesting as people are still driving pickup trucks. But for such a colorless narrative, Runaway works all right. It’s dumb, but competent in some interesting ways (though less so in some other–not interesting–ways).

1/4

CREDITS

Written and directed by Michael Crichton; director of photography, John A. Alonzo; edited by James Coblentz and Glenn Farr; music by Jerry Goldsmith; production designer, Douglas Higgins; produced by Michael I. Rachmil; released by Tri-Star Pictures.

Starring Tom Selleck (Sgt. Jack R. Ramsay), Cynthia Rhodes (Officer Karen Thompson), Gene Simmons (Dr. Charles Luther), Kirstie Alley (Jackie Rogers), Stan Shaw (Sgt. Marvin James), G.W. Bailey (Chief of Police), Joey Cramer (Bobby Ramsay) and Chris Mulkey (David Johnson).


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