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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

THE THING WITH TWO HEADS (1972)

Ray Milland is the terminally ill transplant specialist who needs a fresh body to graft his healthy head on. ‘Rosie’ Grier is the death row inmate who volunteers in the hope of gaining a little extra time to prove his innocence. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, did I mention that the good doctor is a horrible racist? If only the movie were as outrageous as its set up. Alas, this goofball release from Grade B film marketeers American International Pictures has the heart, soul & look of ‘70s a tv Movie-of-the-Week, with a few car & motorcycle chase scenes thrown in. A big fandango with 14 police cars is impressively destructive, but megger Lee Frost hasn’t a clue on how to put cause-and-effect into an action scene, random mayhem is his limit. Still, in its tactless way, the film is not without social/political interest as a blunt bigotry litmus test.. But it does go awfully flat whenever it tries to be funny. If it simply let its absurdist tendencies play out, it might have been nearly entertaining. That is, if someone other than Milland knew how to act.

DOUBLE-BILL: The idea of a white bigot trapped inside the body of a black man had recently appeared in Francis Coppola’s disastrous attempt at FINIAN’S RAINBOW/’68, made twenty years after the stage show opened & twenty years before it might have worked as a period piece. And don’t forget WATERMELON MAN/’70. Still a better pairing might come from another double-headed film fiasco, HOW TO GET AHEAD IN ADVERTISING/’89, the career-cratering follow up pic for helmer Bruce Robinson & Richard E. Grant just off their indispensable WITHNAIL AND I/’87

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