Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB
USA, 1971. Theater Guild, Segal-Tokofsky Productions, Edward Spector Productions. Original Story by Ivan Passer, Screenplay by David Scott Milton, Ivan Passer. Cinematography by Richard C. Kratina, Jack Priestley. Produced by Philip Langner. Music by William Fischer. Production Design by Murray P. Stern. Costume Design by Albert Wolsky. Film Editing by Ralph Rosenblum.
George Segal is a petty thief and heroin addict who can’t beat the odds against him: he and his best friend Jay Fletcher try to rob a safe and fail, Segal is constantly being manipulated by smooth drug kingpin Hector Elizondo, and when he tries to steal a car off the street, it results in a meet-cute with the owner (a delightful Karen Black), with whom he, against all sanity, strikes up a romance. Segal keeps thinking his next scheme will put him over on his oppressors and he’ll get his own back, but his plans to pull off a few deals for Elizondo and make off with the cash keep hitting snags and drag him into deeper, dangerous trouble in this cynical but often darkly funny film by Czech ex-patriate Ivan Passer (here making his Hollywood debut). Passer’s plot twists always lead to dead ends, there’s no desire to see anything pay off that has been carefully set up, and that will frustrate many viewers, but the charisma of the entire cast (which also includes a top-billed but barely visible Paula Prentiss) and their quirky interactions make it at least worth checking out.
Toronto International Film Festival: 1977