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

Thursday, November 7, 2013


Robert Hooks and Lynn Redgrave
THE LAST OF THE MOBILE HOT SHOTS (1970). Director: Sidney Lumet.

"Go home with you? -- but I don't even know you." -- Myrtle

Myrtle Kane (Lynn Redgrave), who once belonged to a group called the "Mobile Hot Shots," gets a stranger, Jeb Thornton (James Coburn), to pretend he's engaged to her so they can win some prizes on a local game show. Unfortunately, the host also wants to marry them on the program. Jeb takes Myrtle back to his dilapidated plantation, Waverly, where he lives with his black half-brother, "Chicken" (Robert Hooks). The dying Jeb agreed that Chicken would have the plantation after his death if he helped him work it, and signed a paper to that effect, but now he sends Myrtle out to get back the paper by any means possible. But Chicken knows something that may make all of Jeb's manipulations unnecessary. Loosely based on Tennessee Williams' play "The Seven Descents of Myrtle," it's a wonder why anyone thought Mobile Hot Shots would make a good movie. Everyone is miscast, and Lumet is certainly the wrong director. The movie can't seem to make up its mind if it's a comedy or not -- there are a couple of chuckles, but that's it, and the final revelation is a pip  -- but its biggest failing is that with all that's going on it's still a bore [even a climactic flood doesn't help much]. Redgrave seems to be channeling Geraldine Page in Sweet Bird of Youth (although her character is completely different), but she makes one of the the least convincing Williams' heroines ever. Coburn makes some effort but gets nowhere, and Hooks comes off best, but in this movie that's not saying much. Still it's hard to play Williams just right, and mediocre Williams is even harder. Gore Vidal's screenplay at one point seems to hint at homosexual incest, but as it comes out of nowhere and is unconvincing anyway, it was probably just to set up a quick, dumb gag late in the movie. The premise of the picture is intriguing but the development is just dismal. With Hooks playing a character who denies his being black, one would have to say Hot Shots is horribly dated as well. [If one wonders why anyone would want to own a property like Waverly in the first place, all I can say is real estate!]

Verdict: This should just be washed away with the flood. *1/2.

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