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CHANDLER (director: Paul Magwood; screenwriter: John Sacret Young/based on the story by Paul Magwood; cinematographer: Alan Stensvold; editors: William B. Gulick/Richard Harris; music: George Romanis; cast: Warren Oates (Chandler), Leslie Caron (Katherine Creighton), Alex Dreier (Ross J. Carmady), Mitchell Ryan (Charles ‘Chuck’ Kincaid), Gordon Pinsent (John Melchior), Charles McGraw (Bernie Oakman), Richard Loo (Leo), Walter Burke (Zeno), Marianne McAndrew (Angel Carter), Scatman Crothers (Smoke), Lal Baum (Waxwell), Charles Shull (Binder Ransin); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Michael S. Laughlin; Warner Archive (MGM); 1971)
A below average pulp thriller.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A below average pulp thriller directed by the inexperienced Paul Magwood. It’s based on a story he wrote. John Sacret Young writes the convoluted script. It wants to be Chandler as in Raymond, but because everything about is so lacking it’s more like Chandler as in crap.

The aging LA night-time security guard Chandler (Warren Oates), a former private eye, quits in the middle of his shift. The next day he’s hired by the untrustworthy government agent Bernie Oakman (Charles McGraw) to secretly protect the French artist Katherine Creighton (Leslie Caron), a material witness for the government and the former mistress of the racketeer John Melchior (Gordon Pinsent). Bernie, planning to use his old pal as a decoy, tells him the lie that John wants to silence her because she knows too much. When Waxwell (Lal Baum), a thug who works for John, kidnaps her, planning to bring her back to John because he still loves her and has no desire to harm her, we learn the government story is a fabrication. Their plan is to kill John and not her. In any event, she’s rescued by the smitten Chandler. Katherine then takes the train to Monterey, California. When the awkward plot thickens, Bernie’s boss, Carmady (Alex Dreier), is around to make sure his gangster buddy Chuck Kincaid (Mitchell Ryan) will eliminate John so he can take his place as a double-agent to work with Carmady. The plans of the government agents are somewhat upset by the noble hearted Chandler’s daring acts of courage.

The reason Caron was slumming in this pic is because her hubby, Michael S. Laughlin, was the producer. Magwood says the pic turned out so confusing because MGM’s interfering head James Aubrey re-edited the film without permission and ruined what could have been a good homage film to pulp writer Chandler. The pic bombed at the box office and with the critics.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”