July 9, 2007

52 Pick-Up (Frankenheimer, 1986)

52 Pick-Up isn't quite the hidden gem I was hoping it would be. In my estimation it is more like 1/3rd of a hidden gem, which is almost worst than if it had been completely, irredeemably bad. The film starts off promisingly. Frankenheimer seems in complete control of Elmore Leonard's lurid, sleazy prose, and Jost Vacano's cinematography is captivating in its fluidity. There is a certain unsophisticated pleasure to be found in the brooding atmospherics of this infidelity cum revenge tale. Unfortunately, nearly all of the lurid ambiance and pulpy style Frankenheimer and Leonard build up in the film's opening third are squandered by the time we reach the film's ridiculous climax, and we are left with a film completely detached from its initial self, a film inhabiting that strange 80's action film netherworld where every nonsensical move must be punctuated by over the top theatricality and cartoon violence. The best thing about the film is John Glover's turn as bad guy Alan Raimy. He speaks with a wonderfully strange cadence and articulation perfectly suited to Leonard's seedy dialogue.

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