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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Drama > 52 Pick Up (1986/MGM DVD)

52 Pick Up (1986/MGM)


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



So many great directors were lost in the shuffle to make mall movie garbage in the 1980s that some of their resulting films become some of their oddest.  John Frankenheimer landed up at the infamous Cannon Films to get his thriller 52 Pick Up (1986) made, based on the Elmore Leonard book (who co-wrote the screenplay with John Steppling) about the rich, old, possibly regretful Harry (Roy Scheider) living a great life.  His wife (Ann-Margaret) is doing well herself, but when a greedy schemer (John Glover so good at his smarmy roles) has XXX-caliber footage of Harry in bed with a younger woman (Kelly Preston); Harry has some clever plans of his own on how to deal with it.


Twists include another hustler named Bobby Shy (Clarence Williams III in a very gritty performance) and iconic 1980s sex symbol (and one time Prince protégée) Vanity at her seductive (and pre-born again) best.  The cast is interesting, but as a sort of reply to the 1980s, the film has a coldness and emptiness unlike most Frankenheimer films.  So much so that it is like no other.


This was his best film since Black Sunday (1977) and it would take Ronin (1998) for him to return to great form.  This was his best film in between and is worth a look as it has actually improved with age.  Lonny Chapman also stars


The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image was shot on film by Paul Verhoeven Director of Photography Jost Vacano in his first Hollywood work (with an uncredited Stephen Ramsey also contributing) with good color, detail and depth, though it is a little softer than expected.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has no real surrounds, is somewhat well recorded despite being an Ultra Stereo release (an analog mono surround system more distorted than basic Dolby A-type from the 1970s) but is passable.  There are no extras, though J. Lee Thompson had just adapted the book as a theatrical feature with The Ambassador and it would be nice to see that one on DVD.  Could we get a featurette on that or a trailer?



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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