The Ugly American

As predicted, the film fell on deaf ears, with attendant consequences reckoned in Frankenheimer’s Path to War.

But this kind of analysis is not strictly political, and so cannot be understood in political terms, though any understanding would serve, by its lights.

For the rest, a beautifully-made masterpiece with exteriors in Thailand.



You would have opened your New York Times and read Roger Greenspun’s observation that Englund’s film had “the apparent intention of propagandizing homosexual love.”

A little treatise on the way of the gunfighter, adapted to the exigencies of a rock ‘n roll mind-altering Western, as some critics would say.

Some things are more serious than others, maybe, some things can’t be taken seriously enough, some things are not to be taken quite so seriously, after all.

Altman’s McCabe & Mrs. Miller has a few similarities and followed by five months.

Two boys take up the gun, fall in with the Crackers and Job Cain and Belle Starr, one drifts away to desert and mountain, the other comes looking for him, to settle the matter of who’s fastest.


Snow Job

The job in the Italian Alps has three parts, preparation, execution and getaway. A swift run down a steep slope to a crevasse is self-timed with a stopwatch, then the skier uses a fishing pole to cast a line over and reel it in for measurement.

He has a girl with an in to the bank director and a camera in her purse. He cultivates a snowmobile racer.

The two men rob bank couriers of a fortune, then dash up the slopes, the skier atop a cable car, the racer by tow rope. At the top, the skier jumps off and down the slope. The racer skis to his snowmobile, the transfer is made, he jumps the crevasse. Money and snowmobile are safely ditched farther on.

The carabinieri arrive by helicopter, jeep and snow tractor. So does Mr. Dolphi of the insurance company, a smiling gentleman who even laughs sometimes as his questioning cracks the surface of his suspects.

The racer and the girl give up, consoling themselves at a disco. Next day, Mr. Dolphi helicopters away with the money. The skier is disconsolate, says farewell to his girl, joins Dolphi on the train and smiles, too.


The Vegas Strip War

The stone that was rejected, or the dispossessed innkeeper. The precedent is Dean Martin dicing for dominion against a little Japanese odds computer (“Angels in Vegas”), and before that there is even Quine’s Hotel. The star was effaced at once, and then the city. The commanding, subtle comedy of Englund’s script is matched by performances entirely capable of it.

Kipling’s idea of courage, of outgrowing childhood, is the main analysis on a throw of dice at the crap table.