When you hear the names Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker (Airplane!, Top Secret) you automatically know there are boatloads of zany sight gags, puns and parodies to be had. Although weaker than the previous films, thanks to another bang up job by Leslie Nielsen, this police drama parody is still a lot of fun.
After single handedly beating up on the United States biggest enemies, Lieutenant Frank Drebin (Nielsen) returns to the L.A. precinct to investigate the case of a heroin ring and the brutal injury of his colleague Nordberg (O.J. Simpson). Drebin gets the obligatory briefing from his superior (George Kennedy) and the necessary gadgets for the mission. The case brings our hero in contact with the villainous Vincent Ludwig (Richardo Montalban) as well as his alluring assistant (Priscilla Presley). Drebin and Ms. Spencer’s relationship soon becomes sappily romantic (cue I’m Into Something Good) with hot dogs, movies and jaunts on the beach.
The rest of the case involves car chases, fires, incriminating documents, the arrival of the Queen and of course California Angels Baseball. That’s right. The Queen is to be assassinated and what better location than a baseball game? It is Drebin’s responsibility to stop the attempt at all costs and he makes quite a mess of the game (like he did with everything else), but he does get the job done. His methods are far from orthodox to be sure but he gets the girl and the bad guy pays for his misdeeds. Nordberg certainly is lucky to have such a loyal partner, maybe.
This comic trio pushes the wackiness as far as it can possibly go, oftentimes with mock seriousness and overdone tropes that get made fun of. For instance Drebin gives us voice-over narration, Spencer is very much a femme fatale at first and the story is your not so typical procedural format. Unexpected cameos by Weird Al, Jay Johnstone, Reggie Jackson and a whole host of professional announcers are certainly memorable. Furthermore the uproarious baseball sequences with “I Love L.A.” playing were certainly a hit. This is a comedy classic from the files of the police squad and I cannot help but enjoy it.
Although John Wayne was old enough to play the father, the dynamic between the sons of Katie Elder is a fun one, besides the fact that John Wayne and Dean Martin could never in a million years be brothers.
Otherwise this is a relatively typical western with a menacing bad guy who has control of the small western town facing the brothers who are in the right. However, the town ultimately turns against them thanks to corruption and the stupid bravado of an inexperienced deputy. The balance is finally returned and justice is dealt, but not without some bloodshed of course.
Besides Wayne and Martin, there were some memorable turns by James Gregory, George Kennedy, Paul Fix, and a few others.
In one of his most memorable performances, Paul Newman is Luke Jackson a man put on a chain gang for cutting the heads off parking meters while drunk. Despite the weary and monotonous regiment, Luke will not be cowed and he always keeps his positive demeanor.
Originally the newcomer, Luke quickly earns the respect of everyone including Dragline (George Kennedy), whether he is boxing, eating 50 hard-boiled eggs, or bluffing his way through a card game. Even though he is never quite successful, Luke never stops trying to escape either. His numerous clever attempts lead the Captain (Strother Martin) to utter his famous words about their “failure to communicate.” After multiple escape attempts Luke gets beaten, berated, and tortured.
However, he proves that you can never destroy his spirit no matter how hard yo try and so the ending is inconsequential. So ultimately “Cool Hand Luke” is a winner and a likable one at that.
It is necessary to acknowledge this solid ensemble cast including the likes of Dennis Hopper, Wayne Rogers, Ralph Waite, and of course Joan Van Fleet. Furthermore, there is seemingly no film that better depicts the dirt, grime, heat, and humidity that comes from working in a southern chain gang. The cinematography makes even the audience uncomfortable and a shower seems all but necessary.
Although the focus is often on the indefatigable character of Luke it became evident that this is often a taxing and difficult film to watch especially in the second half. In many ways Luke is the savior of these men in the chain gang and he sacrifices a lot of himself so that they might have some hope. Thus, this film is not just about the highs but the lows as well and Paul Newman plays every moment adeptly with the coolness that Luke Jackson embodies.
Starring the romantic pair of Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, with Walter Matthau, James Coburn, and George Kennedy, this film is considered the best “Hitchcock film” which the director did not make. While on vacation, Grant and Hepburn first meet briefly and then she returns to her home Paris. Hepburn goes there only to find out her husband, who she wanted to divorce, has been murdered. When meeting with a CIA man (Matthau), she learns that her husband and three buddies stole some money during a war but the three chums never got their shares. Upon meeting Grant again, he agrees to help Regina (Hepburn) and also says he is looking for the money. Through a series of events the three other men are all killed and everything seems to point to Grant. Hepburn runs for her life with Grant close behind and winds up meeting the CIA man. However, everything is not as it seems and after a shoot out Hepburn finally realizes the truth. Along with the thrills this movie has a nice score and a touch of playful comedy (including Grant’s many aliases including Peter Joshua, Alexander Dyle, Adam Canfield, etc.). Cary Grant was hesitant of playing opposite Hepburn since he was quite a bit older, but that is used nicely in the film as a source of even more comedy. Furthermore, Mancini’s score gives the film a 1960s spy vibe or I guess I should say agent… Hope you enjoy Stanley Donen‘s Charade.