52 Pick-Up

Roy Scheider and eighties prices in 52 Pick-Up (dir. John Frankenheimer, 1986)

Workmanlike Elmore Leonard vehicle. Captures the atmosphere of low-life high stakes at midtempo that characterizes Leonard's second-tier work (i.e., most of it). Doesn't have the crackly groove of Jackie Brown or the crystalline gleam of Out of Sight, but it's still better than most other Leonard-based crime movies I've seen. Scheider has the right look, though he's wooden as hell. Ann-Margret gets in a sharp look or two. Kelly Preston plays a character played by Kelly Preston. Doug McClure plays a campaign poster. The rest of the ensemble is tight: John Glover, Clarence Williams III, Robert Trebor, and--with way too little screen time--Vanity. The movie's main defect is the use of the porn subtheme as an excuse to look like a porn flick at times, and one disturbing execution scene that generates more gravity than the movie knows how to deal with. Oddly, the Golan-Globus production team had done another 52 Pick-Up adaptation two years previously, titled The Ambassador (starring Robert Mitchum and Rock Hudson!) and set in the context of the mideast crisis. I haven't seen it, and I haven't read the novel, so I don't know which version is the closest to the original text.

Roy Scheider, Vanity, and a large plush bear.

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