Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. USA, 1979. Winter Gold Productions. Screenplay by William Richert, based on the book by Richard Condon. Cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond. Produced by Fred C. Caruso, Daniel H. Blatt. Music by Maurice Jarre. Production Design by Robert F. Boyle. Costume Design by Robert De Mora. Film Editing by David Bretherton.
Fictionalized expose of the JFK assassination would be more palatable if it were either more credible or, conversely, more self-aware of its ridiculous nature. Jeff Bridges plays the Bobby-esque son of a Joe Kennedy stand-in (played with unapologetic zeal by a wonderful John Huston) who is told by a man dying on the ship upon which he is serving that he was the gunman who killed his brother. Bridges gets ashore and begins to investigate this man’s confession, at first incredulous until he is dodging killers at every turn and causing collateral damage that results in other people dying. Mob bosses, sexy female journalists, an odd Anthony Perkins supervising all from a space-age control centre, an insane Sterling Hayden threatening to run over him with his armored tank, so much comes Bridges’ way that it is no wonder he spends the whole time with a stupefied look on his face. Bridges is wonderful in the lead, perfectly keeping pace with all the aspects of his character that are necessary, his sympathetic need for the truth, his obnoxious sense of entitlement and his slowly eroding naivete (not to mention that he’s young and gorgeous here), but director William Reichert doesn’t know that he is making a tabloid-style piece of fluff bordering on farce. Many of the plot twists are hard to follow and the details are more obscure than complicated, the whole thing so preposterous that it cannot work without the shot of humour it so desperately needs. Huston, whose scenes are the only time the film blends its elements effectively, was to film the next major adaptation of a Richard Condon novel, Prizzi’s Honor.