Born to Win
Schatzberg’s The Panic in Needle Park was shown in Cannes six months before, but then Schatzberg owes a debt to Schlesinger’s Midnight Cowboy, and so does Passer.
The big bad city has a new vice, smack. Passer has a hallucinatory vision of Gilroy’s Desperate Characters or Frank’s The Prisoner of Second Avenue later mobilized by Scorsese in Taxi Driver, the general stasis and degradation are represented on the West Coast in Huston’s Fat City.
The gangster who took over the mob in Moscow after Lenin.
The basis is LeRoy’s Little Caesar, Huston’s The List of Adrian Messenger supplies the makeup worn by Duvall in the title role, a complex apparition (Edward G. Robinson, Robert De Niro and Emilio Fernandez might be recognized).
Ordering the Soviet government is simply a matter of solidifying the racket.
Citations of Lean and Eisenstein will be recognized as well, and an invocation of Coppola in the background, with a touch of De Palma (The Untouchables), Olivier’s Richard III is very useful indeed, “the climax of our play,” there’s even Altman’s Buffalo Bill and the Indians for Stalin and the ballerina, followed by a marvelous citation of Rod Serling’s “The Mirror” (dir. Don Medford) on The Twilight Zone, even Glenville’s Becket is brought into play for Stalin’s self-mortification after Hitler’s invasion (sauna treatment).
A great gangland picture.
Variety’s Tony Scott could not follow it, “Stalin remains a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”