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Thursday, February 2, 2017


Hopeless. Writer turned writer/director Philip Dunne (HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY/’41; THE ROBE/’53) was an unlikely choice on this lightweight thriller from Universal, meant to hit the same notes as CHARADE/’63. Rock Hudson & Claudia Cardinale more-or-less stand-in for Cary Grant & Audrey Hepburn, but the package lacks the sparkle, macabre wit, style & clever plot twists of that Stanley Donen/Peter Stone film.* Hudson, playing a womanizing shrink with commitment fears, is secretly helping the military with a paranoid ex-patient, a brilliant scientist now considered a flight-risk for defection. Waylaid by spirited sister Cardinale, they wind up on the run from bad guys, good guys and a few in-between guys; falling in love while trying to sort them all out. Dunne, whose best work was done on prestige projects @ 20th/Fox in the ‘40s & ‘50s, hasn’t the light touch for these things, the supporting cast is particularly overwrought, hammering out character tics & punch lines, and Cardinale’s scratchy voice just bounces off Hudson’s suave baritone. Lenser Joseph MacDonald, a fellow 20th/Fox refugee, does well by the bridle paths of Central Park, only to succumb to the hideous overlit interiors so typical of Universal house-style in the ‘60s. By the third act, Dunne stops caring about making any sense of things, eager to get it over. Finished at 57, he must have known he’d made one pic too many.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: *Universal still wanted another CHARADE and soon gave Donen & Stone a shot at it with ARABESQUE/’66. In this one, Gregory Peck & Sophia Loren more-or-less stand-in for Grant & Hepburn. And if the film is, at best, only a reasonable facsimile of what worked so well in CHARADE, it gets a lot closer to the target than BLINDFOLD ever does.

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