99 AND 44/100% DEAD (aka: CALL HARRY CROWN

99 AND 44/100% DEAD (aka: CALL HARRY CROWN)

(director: John Frankenheimer; screenwriter: Robert Dillon; cinematographer: Ralph Woolsey; editor: Harold F. Kress; music: Henry Mancini; cast: Richard Harris (Harry Crown), Edmond O’Brien (Uncle Frank Kelly), Bradford Dillman (Big Eddie), Ann Turkel (Buffy), Kathrine Baumann (Baby), Chuck Connors (Marvin ‘Claw’ Zuckerman), Constance Ford (Dolly), David Hall (Tony), Max Kleven (North), Janice Heiden (Clara); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Joe Wizan; Video Search of Miami; 1974)

“To say it stinks, is like saying a sewer smells.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A dreadfully witless film that has attracted a minor cult following over the years (probably by consumers impressed with its clumsy title that was meant to spoof a familiar ad for soap in America that used pure in its slogan instead of dead). John Frankenheimer (“Seven Days in May”/”The Manchurian Candidate”/”The Fixer”), an uneven director, comes up with a slick, stylish crime drama spoof that is annoying in its fake Hollywood impersonation of hoods, lame acting, wretched dialogue (like one wise guy character saying “A cigar doesn’t care who smokes it”) and trite plot. It’s lamely scripted by Robert Dillon, who skids out of control as he goes for broad comedy at every turn. This is one of those bad films that’s bad enough not to be good for even a sec.

City crime bosses, the gruff Uncle Frank Kelly (Edmond O’Brien) and the maniacal Big Eddie (Bradford Dillman), are having a turf war in the unnamed city, and Uncle Frank hires for $100,000 renown hit man Harry Crown (Richard Harris) to settle the problem of upstart Big Eddie muscling in on his racket operations.

What follows are shootouts, numerous car chases, a number of bodies with cement shoes dropped in the river and the gangsters toying with the affections of their submissive plastic dolls. There’s a crazed killer on Big Eddie’s payroll named Marvin ‘Claw’ Zuckerman (Chuck Connors) who has a metal stump for a hand courtesy of Harry, who naturally now wants revenge. The most imaginative thing about the film, is that Claw has his metal stump fitted so it can attach anything to it from a corkscrew to a knife.

This misguided effort to satirize the crime genre is never funny, the action scenes are by rote and it never builds to any acceptable purpose. To say it stinks, is like saying a sewer smells.

REVIEWED ON 12/19/2008 GRADE: C-