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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

MOB STORIES: The Undercover Man and The Mexican

I really, really want to go to Outfest, but I just can't seem to justify the $13.00 ticket prices at this time. I did go see Night at the Museum: Battle for the Smithsonian (review to appear at some time in the vague future), but that only cost me $6.50 for the first show.

Instead of spending money at the movies, I decided to spend more time on my Netflix selection and my on demand and cable TV. Last night on TCM, the creme de la creme of movie channels, I saw The Undercover Man (oddly named because no one was undercover) a fictionalized account of the taking down of Al Capone for income tax evasion (here called Big Fellow for legal reasons). The heroes are CPAs and the writers (Jack Rubin, Sydney Boehm, and Malvin Wald) and directors do their darnedest to try to make it exciting, but bless their hearts, what are they gonna do? After all, the characters are just CPA's. All the action scenes seemed a little forced because of this and never quite believable. The lead is played by Glenn Ford, perhaps the perfect casting for an accountant.

It was produced by Robert Rossen who didn't have time to direct because he was directing some trifle called All The King's Men. Malvin Wald also worked on The Naked City.

There are a few things to note here:

It was James Whitmore's film debut.

Big Fellow is never seen (a great idea).

The most interesting performance is given by Barry Kelly as the mob lawyer.

And the ending has a judge exchanging a corrupt jury pool with another judge down the hall--which either means that this really happened or that in Brian de Palma's The Untouchables, the writers probably saw this movie.

I also saw The Mexican, the chick flick relationship movie meets the tongue in cheek action film. My memory is that this got mixed reviews, which is why I never saw it. I think it's a pretty fun film with some great acting by Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt and James Gandolfini (all very droll and funny) with a very, very witty, clever script by J.H. Wyman who is working on the Warriors remake. Maybe it was just a tad too quirky for the critics and audience of the time, or maybe it did better than I remember.

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