Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mob Better Blues!

The Outfit (MGM, 1973)

Before the Camera:

Robert Duvall (THX-1138)
Joe Don Baker (Walking Tall)
Karen Black (Airport '75)
Robert Ryan (Captain Nemo and the Underwater City)
Timothy Carey (The World's Greatest Sinner)
Richard Jaeckel (The Dirty Dozen)
Sheree North (Maniac Cop)
Bill McKinney (Deliverance)
and if you look fast -
Marie Windsor (Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy)
Elisha Cook, Jr. (College Confidential)
Joanna Cassidy (Who Framed Roger Rabbit?)
Henry Jones (Dirty Dingus Magee)
I think Hoyt Axton (Gremlins) is in there too, but he's not listed in it anywhere. Still, if it's not him he had a twin...
Behind the Camera:

Directed by John Flynn

Produced by Carter DeHaven

Written by John Flynn, based on the novel by Richard Stark (Donald Westlake)

    Here we have a down-n-dirty lean and mean crime melodrama, based on a novel by Donald Westlake writing under his harder edged Richard Stark pseudonym. Macklin (Duvall) is released from prison and finds out from his longtime girlfriend Bett (Black) that his brother has been killed gangland style. A little digging turns up the info that the last bank Macklin and his brother robbed was a front for the mob (or Outfit) run by Mailer (Ryan). They put the hit on Macklin's bro, now they want to make it a double Macklin funeral. But he's not going to go gently into that good night and instead goes on the run with Bett. Through one of Mailer's captains, Menner (Carey), Macklin gets word to Mailer that all will be forgiven if the mob will shuck out $250,000 to him. Otherwise, he will commence an attack on their enterprises like they've never seen. (Lesson #1: When a guy like Macklin comes to you asking for $250,000, give it to him. Then kill him later when he's drunk and covered in hookers...) The Outfit respectfully indicates their answer is no, sure their torpedoes will find their mark before Macklin can cause too much trouble. But Macklin's a crafty devil, and re-teaming with his old pal Cody (Baker) they start running and gunning on The Outfit's operations, stealing thousands of dollars that Macklin has already warned would not reduce the $250,000 debt he feels he is owed. Gunfire, fistfights, pistol whippings, girl smackings, and car chases all ensue.

Duvall and Baker discover laundry is the most dangerous chore of all.

Thematically it's very similar to Westlake's novel The Hunter (filmed twice - 1967's Point Blank and 1999's Payback) - with a lead character not likely to win any church or civic awards looking to score a very specific amount of money from a gang of criminals he feels wronged him; but it's also different from both of those films and stands on its own. It's nice to see character pro Duvall get the lead here, and he's ably supported by that cast of familiar faces, with standout awards going to Baker, Carey, and especially Ryan, in his final role - he died before the film was released. The ladies don't have all that much to do, and the movie will never be mistaken for a National Organization for Women training flick, but the actresses do get in a couple of nice moments, Black with that strange allure she always brings to the table, and North nearly falling out of a flimsy little nothing she almost wears in her scene. Director Flynn handles his duties adroitly, keeping a solid pace but not forgetting some solid character moments along the way. These aren't people you would want to have over for Sunday dinner, but it's fun to watch them run around waving guns at each other for an hour and forty minutes.

Let's Get Out of Here ?

At about the 10:00 mark, Karen Black goes large with The Line, proposing a new start on life to Robert Duvall. He declines, natch.

Eye Candy ?

Although Karen Black could qualify, she doesn't get the necessary showcase here. Sheree North, however, tramps right over and takes the prize for this flick.

Buddha Man's Capsule Review

Buddha Man says "The Outfit is good actors, good action, good times!"

Until next time, you can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!


  1. It's been a long time since I've seen this one......

  2. Yeah, fantastic stuff Craig, great review - I want to see this film again... from an era when men were tough and the films they made even tougher. I really like The Friends of Eddie Coyle, as hard-as-nails Robert Mitchum crime film from 1973...