Monday, November 16, 2015

Movie review - "The Split" (1968) ***

A Jim Brown starring vehicle from the period he was under contract to MGM, who made a decent stab at turning him into an action draw. This is based on a Richard Stark "Parker" novel, a series which had previously been filmed as Point Blank - the same studio and producers made this, only with Brown instead of Lee Marvin.

It's an entirely decent heist movie - not incredibly memorable, certainly not in the class of Point Blank (director Gordon Flemying wasn't in John Boorman's class; ditto Brown re: Lee Marvin) but it's a strong story, and has an impressive support cast: Brown's fellow thieves include Julie Harris (effective as the mastermind), Ernest Borgnine, Warren Oates and Donald Sutherland; his ex wife is played by Diahan Carroll (the nicest person in the film), whose landlord is James Whitmore; Gene Hackman is a detective.

It's a shame Hackman's role is relatively short (though crucial) - he doesn't appear for the last 20 minutes. I could have done with less build up to the heist and more trouble afterwards; also Whitmore's orgasmic face after killing someone is a bit off and the final shot should have had Brown realizing the voice he heard was from a dead girl instead of being too try hard enigmatic.

I think I like the idea of Jim Brown movie star more than the actuality - the concept of this football champion headlining all these MGM action films in the late 60s is very winning, and he does have presence, but I can't help feeling he was more effective in his supporting roles than the lead. But he does add to the charm of the piece (especially considering the plot of this revolves around robbing a stadium during a football game).

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