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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Winter Kills (1979)

19 years after the assassination of the President of the United States, his younger half brother (Jeff Bridges) hears the deathbed confession of a man (Joe Spinell) who claims to have been the second gunman in the assassination. Since the official conclusion was that the assassination was the act of a lone gunman, the brother attempts to uncover the real culprits behind the killing. Based on the novel by Richard Condon (THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE), this absurdist black comedy is a satire of conspiracy theory movies. The paranoia of conspiracy theorists is ripe for satire but as a comedy, it's pretty feeble (the book took the plot a bit more seriously). The movie itself ran into major problems taking some three years between shooting and a release. The film stopped shooting because of bankruptcy (the director had to shoot another movie so he could get the money to finish this one) and two of the film's producers met bad ends (one was rubbed out by the mafia, the other got a 40 year prison sentence for drug smuggling). It's a great looking movie though with expert wide screen lensing by the great Vilmos Zsigmond and Maurice Jarre contributes one of his better scores. The huge cast includes John Huston (parodying his Noah Cross role), Anthony Perkins, Toshiro Mifune, Sterling Hayden, Eli Wallach, Dorothy Malone, Richard Boone, Ralph Meeker, Tomas Milian, Belinda Bauer, Brad Dexter, Camilla Sparv and as a madam, Elizabeth Taylor.

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