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Saturday, November 29, 2014

THE DESTRUCTORS (aka THE MARSEILLE CONTRACT) (1974)

A slick, empty package with Anthony Quinn’s Paris-based U.S. intelligence officer hiring Michael Caine’s devil-may-care contract killer to ‘take out’ suave drug dealer James Mason; then trying to call off the deal. A typical faceless, if plush-looking, international tax-dodge production of its day, or so it seems. In its own way, it’s also more like a contract killing then a creative endeavor, with bankable names signing up without wanting to know the details. They’re as much victim as hitman. At least it's well shot by Douglas Slocombe on well-chosen French locations in Paris & Marseille, and decently helmed by Hollywood journeyman Robert Parrish in his final credit. But producer/scripter Judd Bernard can’t be bothered working out the plot’s twists & turns; all those stars are ‘on the clock.’ Instead, a few car chases and Caine eavesdropping on Mason thru a cracked door to move things along. Baby-boomers will enjoy spotting JFK’s press secretary Pierre Salinger in a bit; and Quinn fanciers will note how handsome he looks. Something different about the shape of his head . . . or good hair-styling.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: The film’s original title, THE MARSEILLE CONTRACT, is a dead giveaway on the pitch that probably sold this as an expansion on THE FRENCH CONNECTION/’71 Euro-set up.

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