(director: Don Siegel; screenwriters: Frank D. Gilroy (Bert Blessing the name used by Gilroy as an alias)/David Newman; cinematographer: Vilmos Zsigmond; editor: Douglas Stewart; music: Miles Goodman/Bruce Roberts; cast: Bette Midler (Bonita Friml), Ken Wahl (Willie Brodax), Rip Torn (Harold Benson), Val Avery (Milt Hawkins), Jack Elam (Otto), George Dickerson (Tahoe Casino Manager); Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Herb Jaffe; MGM/United Artists; 1982)
“Unfunny black comedy.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Unfunny black comedy. Don Siegel’s last film is no Double Indemnity. It suffers from a weak script that was not helped with many rewrites and no chemistry between lovers Bette Middler and Ken Wahl.
Lounge singer Bonita Friml’s (Bette Middler) loutish boyfriend Harold Benson (Rip Torn) is a small-time professional gambler who found a young blackjack dealer Willie Brodax (Ken Wahl) whom he can consistently beat. Harold gets the jinxed dealer kicked out of Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe. When Willie gets a blackjack dealer job in Reno, Harold wins big at his table. The Harrah’s casino manager Val Avery (Milt Hawkins) advises the pigeon to get something that belongs to Harold to break the jinx or else he’ll be out of a job. The handsome Willie easily scores Bonita while hanging around her car trailer. She’s tired of Harold’s abusive behavior and the cruel way he treats her cat, and dreams of leaving the lug without being followed and brought back with bruises. While singing a medley during a revue act, Bonita talks Willie into going along with her plan to eliminate Harold and collect $250,000 on the insurance policy. Things go in a different direction when Willie overcomes the jinx and takes all of Harold’s money, with the beaming casino manager watching. The loser commits suicide in the shower, but the catch is that the insurance policy has a clause that won’t pay on a suicide. Not sure of where to go from there, the messy plot line gets even further off course and turns into an unconvincing love story and an even less convincing mystery story. I wouldn’t bet a plugged nickel on this film getting anyone to laugh if I were a gambling man. Even Siegel was quoted as saying “The film stinks.”
REVIEWED ON 6/23/2005 GRADE: C – https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/