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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Twilight's Last Gleaming (1977)

An ex Air Force General (Burt Lancaster) and three accomplices (Paul Winfield, Burt Young, William Smith) escape from prison and take over a nuclear missile site. The ex-General has monetary demands but he is more concerned that the U.S. President (Charles Durning) read a top secret file on the Vietnam war on national TV. Loosely based on the novel VIPER THREE by Walter Wager. The 1970s were the decade for "don't trust the government" conspiracy movies: THE PARALLAX VIEW, 3 DAYS OF THE CONDOR, ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN were some of the better ones. This effort by Robert Aldrich (KISS ME DEADLY) is just awful! Pushing the 2 1/2 hour mark, it's bloated even though Aldrich uses a split screen technique to show simultaneous action rather than cutting back and forth. Aldrich eliminated Vera Miles' scenes as the First Lady but he could have cut a trite scene between Durning and Gerald S. O'Laughlin (who performance is abysmal) that stops the movie in its tracks. Early on in the film there's a sequence where Lancaster and his men attempt to dismantle an explosive device that has no suspense because we know if it explodes, it ends there and there's no movie! Aldrich does manage to sustain tension during several sequences but overall, it's a pretty ludicrous film. The large cast includes Richard Widmark, Melvyn Douglas, Joseph Cotten, Richard Jaeckel, Charles McGraw, Roscoe Lee Browne, Leif Erickson and William Marshall.

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