Thursday, January 21, 2016


Year 8, Day 21 - 1/21/16 - Movie #2,221

BEFORE: OK, so here's where I have to admit that I screwed up my own actor linking.  I thought I had a nice chain all worked out, and I was going to use "The Prophet" to connect the Salma Hayek chain to another Alfred Molina film - "Maverick", and that would kick off a 5-film tribute to the late James Garner.  And that chain was supposed to end with "Sunset", which had a link to "The Great Waldo Pepper", but I remembered too late that it was an indirect link (no actor carried over, but two actors co-starred in another film).  And maybe, once upon a time, I had put "Maverick" next to "The Great Waldo Pepper" for a reason, because they have two actors in common, but adding in the extra James Garner films destroyed the connection, and I couldn't see a way to get it back.

That's not entirely true - I could have subbed in "Narrow Margin" for "The Great Waldo Pepper", and it had the extra benefit of directly linking to both "Sunset" via M. Emmet Walsh, and the next film in the chain, via Gene Hackman.  But that would destroy the Gene Hackman link I need in March, and I just got March's schedule into a shape that I can live with, one that gets me to "Batman v. Superman", so I don't want to re-configure that.  

If I had noticed in time, maybe I could have changed things around - like linked to "Sunset" from "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" via Bruce Willis, or followed the Penelope Cruz link out of "Bandidas" to "The Counselor" or the Alfred Molina link out of "The Prophet" to "The Hoax" - but as far as I can tell, none of those paths get me to where I want to be on February 1, so quite honestly, the easiest thing for me to do is to flip the James Garner chain around, so "Maverick" reconnects with "The Great Waldo Pepper".  I still have an indirect link tonight, but it's one of my choosing - Salma Hayek links to M. Emmet Walsh via "The Wild Wild West", and that's reference to another Western movie, here in this week of mostly Westerns, so I'll have to learn to live with that. 

THE PLOT: Tom Mix and Wyatt Earp team up to solve a murder at the Academy Awards in 1929 Hollywood.

AFTER: This is an odd film, I honestly don't know what to make of it.  Not in a David Lynch way, like "Eraserhead", just in a sense of wondering how this film ever got made, and what was the point of making it this way.  What, exactly, was someone trying to achieve?  Because it seems like a mystery, but it's not nearly serious enough to be viewed as a crime story, and it's not funny enough to be considered a comedy, so it ends up being like a com-mystery that tries to do both things and fails at both of them.

While it turns out to be true that Wyatt Earp did visit Los Angeles, and did become friends with Tom Mix, what purpose does it serve to make a film about this friendship?  The crime that they are tasked with solving seems like a very flimsy excuse to give them something to do together - sure, Earp was a lawman, but wasn't he retired at this point, and WAY out of his jurisdiction?  I'm just not buying this "Once a sheriff, always a sheriff" concept.  (Hmm, Wikipedia tells me that was made an honorary sheriff in San Bernadino County, which happened in the early 1920's, and he probably met Tom Mix around 1915, not 1929 as depicted here.)  But since the real Wyatt Earp died four months before the first Academy Awards were handed out, I guess you can't expect much historical accuracy from this movie. 

Why do our heroes take such an unusual interest in solving this particular murder, and how do they know for sure that the obvious killer didn't do it?  Just because he's the son of one of Earp's old girlfriends, that doesn't mean he couldn't also be a murderer.  Or does Earp just smell a frame-up from the very start, based on how obvious the crime seems to be?  This is all very unclear.  

Then we've got that man's step-father, who once played a silent-film star called "The Happy Hobo" - and now he's a studio executive.  This is an obvious reference to Charlie Chaplin, who co-founded United Artists in order to have more control over his movies.  But as sordid as Chaplin's romantic life may have been, I'm not aware of any indications that he might have killed one of his wives, or had a near-incestuous relationship with his sister - so if I were in charge of Chaplin's estate, I'd sure consider a lawsuit against whoever made this film, for possible defamation of character. 

That's not to mention the brothel where women dress like famous movie stars (both male and female stars, apparently...) or the weird May-December romance that Earp gets into (especially when the real-life Earp was married in 1929) or the fact that Bruce Willis seems very, very out of place as a movie cowboy.  Maybe he can ride a horse, but that in itself shouldn't place him in a Western movie.  Nothing really makes much sense here, from start to finish.

Also starring Bruce Willis (last seen in "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For"), James Garner (last seen in "The Notebook"), Malcolm McDowell (last seen in "The Artist"), Mariel Hemingway (last seen in "The Contender"), Kathleen Quinlan (last seen in "A Civil Action"), Jennifer Edwards, Patricia Hodge, Dermot Mulroney (last seen in "The Family Stone"), Richard Bradford, Joe Dallesandro, Vernon Wells, with cameos from Dann Florek, Dakin Matthews (last heard in "The Swan Princess"), Peter Jason (last seen in "Undisputed"), Liz Torres (last seen in "The Odd Couple II").

RATING: 3 out of 10 Spanish dancers

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