Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: The Delon-Gabin Connection

August 18th, 2020 | Robin

Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on a little podcast segment we like to call Tell Me More.

The Pinnacle

Any Number Can Win (Film, France, Henri Verneuil, 1964) Freshly sprung veteran heister (Jean Gabin) enlists younger, impetuous ex-cellmate (Alain Delon) to help him knock off a Riviera casino. Icons of Gallic cool execute an intergenerational team up in this class-conscious heist flick, with a final sequence that wrings brilliant suspense from almost nothing. Double bonus points for a crawling-through-air-duct sequence in which one of the obstacles is the fact that air moves at high speed through air ducts.—RDL


The Sicilian Clan (Film, France, Henri Verneuil, 1969) Jewel thief Roger Sartet (Alain Delon) escapes a prison transfer with the aid of the titular Manalese clan headed by capo Vittorio (Jean Gabin), pursued by Commissaire Le Goff (Lino Ventura). France’s top three tough guy icons throw down in this fast-moving film, parenthesized by two great caper set pieces — the prison van breakout and the midair theft of $50 million in jewels from a DC-8 flying from Paris to New York. Jacques Saulnier’s production design highlights the contrasts between bourgeois capitalist cityscapes, old-school Sicilian home life, and brief glimpses of feminine modern style. Ennio Morricone’s score likewise flits between harpsichord and Jews’ harp, to odd effect. –KH


Man with the Gun (Film, US, Richard Wilson, 1955) Cool and calculating gunslinger (Robert Mitchum) reveals more than a streak of psychopathy as he tames a lawless town and seeks answers from the ex-wife (Jan Sterling) who wants nothing to do with him. Would be a classic dark western if it didn’t tack on its unearned happy ending with a perfunctory shrug.—RDL

The Square Circle (Fiction, Daniel Carney, 1982) Lebanese mercenary John Haddad takes a contract from Harvard liberal human-rights activists (!) to break Rudolf Hess out of Spandau prison (!!). If you can swallow the outrageous premise, your reward is a very tightly-wound thriller, though Carney no longer tries to understand most of his characters, for good reason. Became the basis for the shambolic film Wild Geese 2. –KH

Tokyo! (Film, France/Japan, Michel Gondry and Leos Carax and Bong Joon-ho, 2008) A woman who feels sidelined by her filmmaker boyfriend’s ambition undergoes a strange transformation; a green-suited troglodyte rampages through Tokyo; a shut-in finds reason to leave the house. Like most anthology films, this gives directors a forum for short, minor-key works based on ideas no one would greenlight as a standalone.—RDL


Enter Nowhere (Film, US, Jack Heller, 2011) Armed robber Jodie (Sarah Paxton), newly pregnant Samantha (Katherine Waterston), and orphan Tom (Scott Eastwood) meet in a mysterious cabin in the woods, and far too slowly unravel its mysteries. If you’ve written an adequate 27-minute Twilight Zone episode, even Katherine Waterston can’t carry it for 90 minutes, especially if you’ve written her as the drippy one. –KH

The Holcroft Covenant (Film, US, John Frankenheimer, 1985) Architect Noel Holcroft (Michael Caine, substituted at the last minute for James Caan and substituting yelling for acting) discovers that his Nazi general father has left him and two other men $4.5 billion in embezzled Nazi funds, supposedly “to make amends.” I so very wanted to like this otiose adaptation of a Robert Ludlum novel (not his best, but better than this) but at every turn the leaden script arbitrarily blocked me. Frankenheimer intermittently remembers he’s shooting a paranoid thriller, though. –KH

Lost Highway (Film, US, David Lynch, 1997) Stalked by mysterious forces, a jealous husband (Bill Pullman) is arrested for murdering his wife (Patricia Arquette); a dim but hunky mechanic (Balthazar Getty) falls for her doppelganger, the girlfriend of a sadistic mobster (Robert Loggia.) Though it presents the expected riveting images, this sour noir homage skips the interplay of light and dark found in Lynch’s key works in favor of darkness vs. more darkness.—RDL

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