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Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Writer Richard Brooks was pushing 40 when he started to direct his own scripts (BLACKBOARD JUNGLE/'55) and the effort of a late starter always showed in his work. He came closest to relaxing into a visual rhythm when he made his two Westerns; THE PROFESSIONALS and BITE THE BULLET, which actually holds up better than this earlier, better received, pic. With a glam cast (Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan, Woody Strode, Claudia Cardinale, Ralph Bellamy) all honing their regular film personae, super location lensing from Conrad Hall & a nifty caper structure that U-turns right in the middle of Act II (kidnapped bride doesn’t want to be rescued), it’s as professional a product as its title exclaims. So why is the climax such a confusing mishmash? Just keep your expectations in line and you'll have a fine time.

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