The vantage point is that of the tourist family from Ohio, when they arrive in Santa Monica and are confronted with Frank O. Gehry’s ludicrously incompetent midway on the Pier.

Very fine actors ritualize the nightmare as kidnapping and murder in skillfully unbluffed cinematography, the whole a variant of Nabokov’s “dove-droppings on your monument.”


Jack of Hearts

The sum and total of all this is the assessment of Las Vegas after George Englund’s The Vegas Strip War as a Pyrrhic victory to say the least. One mobster loses his casino and fortune when his books are floated up as thoroughly cooked (including sidebars to the city police), his rival sitting pretty waltzes away with blackmail in eight figures, but for the meddling of a detective transferred out to the desert from a similar situation in Florida.

From another point of view, Furie’s Top of the World addresses much the same dilemma, all of it foreseen by Milestone in Ocean’s Eleven.