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

Thursday, April 11, 2013


THE LAST OF SHEILA (1973). Director: Herbert Ross. Screenplay by Anthony Perkins and Stephen Sondheim.

Producer Clinton Green (James Coburn) gathers together a group of people on his yacht for a party of games and murder, as he believes one member of the collection was responsible for the death of his wife, Sheila, in a hit and run. The suspects include writer Tom (Richard Benjamin) and his wife, Lee (Joan Hackett); director Philip (James Mason); actresses Christine (Dyan Cannon) and Alice (Raquel Welch); and Anthony (Ian McShane) to round out the group. These self-absorbed show biz folk are given cards assigning them a particular "vice" as well as clues telling them where to look for more information in the mystery game Clinton insists they all play. But then someone gets murdered for real ... The movie holds the attention and the actors are all good, with James Mason taking top honors, but screenwriters Perkins and Sondheim don't provide fully dimensional characters and are too clever for their own good. As one character says: it "doesn't quite add up -- it leaves you with too many questions." The sexual ambiguity of more than one character only adds to a generally dated quality, with sexual orientations seemingly [and improbably] changing at the drop of a hat [not surprising, considering Tony Perkins worked on the script!]. There's some amusing dialogue and interesting observations at times.

Verdict: Reasonably entertaining, but in the end it adds up to very little. **1/2.

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