Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Paul Newman as Lew Harper
THE DROWNING POOL (1975). Director: Stuart Rosenberg.

Private detective Lew Harper (Paul Newman) is contacted by a woman, Iris (Joanne Woodward), with whom he'd once had a fling, to come to her estate and help her with some problem. Iris' husband is interested elsewhere, her teenage daughter Schuyler (Melanie Griffith) is running around doing whatever she wants, and then her harridan mother-in-law (Coral Browne) is murdered. Has it something to do with Kilbourne (Murray Hamilton), who wanted the dead woman's property for its oil, or the recently discharged chauffeur (Andrew Robinson), who was diddling around with Schuyler? While investigating, fending off Schuyler's advances, and being kidnapped and beaten, Harper tries to get at the unsavory truth. The cast, including a laid-back Newman, is good, but you never really connect with any of the characters. Tony Franciosa and Richard Jaeckel are cops with secrets of their own. Hamilton and Gail Strickland as his wife are notable. The revelations of the story may have had more impact when Ross Macdonald's novel, upon which this was based, was first published. Newman essayed Lew Harper [originally Lew Archer] once before in Harper nine years earlier. The climax in a water-logged hydrotherapy room is fairly exciting.

Verdict: No more than acceptable private eye fare. **1/2.

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