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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Tough Guys Don't Dance (1987)

A struggling writer (Ryan O'Neal) living off a rich wife (Debra Stipe) wakes up from a killer of a hangover with no memory of the night before. But when he finds blood all over the front seat of the car, he knows he better find out and quick. Directed by Norman Mailer and based on his novel of the same name and adapted for the screen with uncredited help from Robert Towne (CHINATOWN). Mailer's loopy black comedy still hasn't received its due. This is one insane movie. Granted, it's misogynistic, homophobic and often in bad taste (one of the film's biggest laughs comes from the after effects of a character's major stroke) and basically a nasty piece of goods. There are NO likable characters in the entire movie unless you count the poor dog that gets stabbed to death. The dialog is faux Raymond Chandler/Mickey Spillane "tough guy" speak and frequently hilarious. In fact, the film is filled with quotable dialog that have you scratching your head ("I may be a physical coward but I have death guts"). Its quirky, off the wall sensibility won't work if you attempt to take it seriously (even Pauline Kael didn't get it). I mean Pomp And Circumstance is playing on the soundtrack when they're dumping dead bodies in the ocean, how could you not get it? One could even call it Lynchian except that Mailer lacks Lynch's talent for the bizarre. But it's good enough. The score is by Angelo Badalamenti (TWIN PEAKS). With Isabella Rossellini, Wings Hauser (the one bad performance in the film, he doesn't seem in on the joke), John Bedford Lloyd, Frances Fisher, Penn Jillette and Mailer's in joke, legendary movie "tough guy" Lawrence Tierney as O'Neal's dying father.   

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