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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Satire > Sex > Counterculture > Gangster > A Fine Madness/The Loved One/The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight (Warner/M-G-M Comedies)

A Fine Madness/The Loved One/The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight (Warner/M-G-M Comedies)


A Fine Madness (1965)


Picture: B     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Film: B-


Directed by the very underrated Irvin Kershner (The Empire Strikes Back, Never Say Never Again, Robocop 2), A Fine Madness is a strange bird of a comedy starring Sean Connery as a womanizer and fledgling poet in mid-1960s New York City.  Connery plays Samson Shillitoe, an eccentric, self-proclaimed poet currently suffering from writer's block.  Between carpet-cleaning gigs and dodging subpoenas, Samson continually cheats on his dim-bulb wife (Joanne Woodward), who adores him so unconditionally that she persuades a renowned psychiatrist (Patrick O'Neal) to treat him.  When you get right down to it, Samson is a self-centered, hedonistic jerk, but Connery's natural charisma prevents us from dwelling on that fact.  Benefiting from a good supporting cast, which includes O'Neal, Jean Seberg, Colleen Dewhurst, John Fiedler and Sorrell Booke, the off-beat A Fine Madness succeeds on the level of breezy lightweight entertainment.  The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen image is much better than you'd expect for a little-remembered film that's 40 years old, but the Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono sound is more comparable to most films of its age.  Extras include the original theatrical trailer and a brief featurette with some behind-the-scenes footage of Connery (then the world's biggest star thanks to having played James Bond four times to that point).



The Loved One (1965)


Picture: B     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Film: D


Whatever the appeal was or is of this cult comedy remains totally lost on me.  Considered outrageous and an envelope pusher upon its release in 1965 -- it was promoted with the tagline "The Motion Picture With Something To Offend Everyone!" -- what it really amounts to is a torturous 121 minutes of an all-star cast engaging in desperately unfunny, over-the-top shenanigans.  As I've said before, just because something is different doesn't automatically mean it's good -- something many a critic often forgets.  In The Loved One, Robert Morse plays a British poet who comes to America, only to become involved with a group of weird people in the funeral business.  Haskell Wexler's beautiful black & white photography is the only worthwhile aspect of a shrill dud that's as tame as it is lame.  And the only thing that offended me about this movie is how it wasted two hours of my life.  The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is surprisingly nice, making the most of Wexler's rich B&W cinematography.  The Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono sound, though, is more typical of a film recorded in mono from 41 years ago.  Special features include the original theatrical trailer as well as a newly-produced featurette with up-to-date interviews with Morse, Anjanette Comer and Paul Williams.



The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight (1970)


Picture: B     Sound: C+     Extras: C-     Film: D


In the year before Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather would revolutionize Mafia movies forever came this stupid spoof of organized crime that's about as appealing as week-old spaghetti.  Based on veteran New York City newspaperman Jimmy Breslin's comic novel (which I can only suppose read better than this plays), The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight concerns a mob war that breaks out when a young upstart named Kid Sally (Jerry Orbach) tries to gain power by knocking off an old-time boss named Baccala (Lionel Stander).  The presence of a young Robert De Niro (front and center on the DVD case) in the supporting role of kleptomaniac with a thick Italian accent might attract some viewers, but believe me when I tell you that the lone amusing gag in this movie is old-man Baccala's morning ritual of sending out his wife to start his car in case it's wired with explosives.  There I just saved you 96 minutes.  Just like The Loved One, Gang is another labored, broadly-played comedy featuring scene after scene of actors talking loudly and behaving frantically while saying and doing nothing funny.  The result is no Analyze This.  Well, to be frank, it's not even close to being an Analyze That.  Gang also gets a solid 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer with merely passable Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono sound.  The only extra included here is the theatrical trailer.



-   Chuck O'Leary

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