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Sunday, June 8, 2008

WINTER KILLS (1979)

William Richert’s debut as writer/helmer was this eccentric adaptation of Richard Condon’s paranoid political fantasia loosely built atop the Kennedy assassination. Unwilling (or unable) to try and mix comic & dramatic elements a la PRIZZI’S HONOR or THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (two other darkly comic Condon fables), he settled for wacky characterizations amid a Kafkaesque comedy landscape. In spite of a general technical incompetence, the pic is irresistibly entertaining on its own terms with a whoopin’, hollerin’, scenery chewin’ cast of oversized personalities. We're talking John Huston, Sterling Hayden , Richard Boone, Elizabeth Taylor, Dorothy Malone, Anthony Perkins, Toshiro Mifune, Ralph Meeker & Eli Wallach, each dishing up conflicting conspiracy theories to straightman Jeff Bridges who shows off the second most expressive brow in filmdom. (Only Gromit of ‘Wallace & Gromit’ fame tops the Jeffster.) Can this modern Candide uncover the truth before getting rubbed out? And will I have the slightest idea what's going on by the time the credits roll? (please see EXECUTIVE ACTION above)

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