Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 1976. Paramount Pictures. Screenplay by Elaine May. Cinematography by Bernie Abramson, Lucien Ballard, Jack Cooperman, Jerry File, Victor J. Kemper. Produced by Michael Hausman. Music by John Strauss. Production Design by Paul Sylbert. Costume Design by Richard Bruno. Film Editing by John Carter, Sheldon Kahn.
John Cassavetes is going a little nuts holed up in his hotel room, firmly believing that the mob is out to kill him. He calls up buddy Peter Falk to bail him out, which he does, and the two of them spend a very long night down a rabbit hole wandering the city of Philadelphia, loitering on buses, walking through cemeteries and even visiting a few girlfriends and ex-wives. Meanwhile, Ned Beatty is the mob man who really has been assigned to kill Cassavetes and is on their tail. A meandering plot line does no harm to the experience of this excellent Elaine May film, her third as director, and it benefits greatly from the two leads: goodness knows that watching two guys basically kill time is always more entertaining when the two guys are actors of this calibre. The supporting cast is not to be discounted, however, including a brilliant Carol Grace as Cassavetes’ gun moll and Rose Arrick as Falk’s wife, but the real kicker here is May’s terrific sense of dialogue and a wonderfully enveloping atmosphere.