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

Thursday, August 27, 2015

SLITHER (1973)

SLITHER (1973). Director: Howard Zieff.

Dick Kanipsia (James Caan) is fresh out of prison and goes home with his jail buddy, Harry Moss (Richard B. Shull), who is promptly murdered. This leads Dick to go on a hunt for the man who knows where Moss left some considerable cash, leading him to Barry (Peter Boyle) and his wife, Mary, (Louise Lasser), who team up with him to find the man with the money. Added to the mix is Kitty (Sally Kellerman), a crazy lady who holds up a diner not long after she first meets Dick. But who is in that sinister black van that keeps following the quartet ... ? I have a feeling that Slither was originally meant to be a serious crime drama that was turned instead into a half-serious light-hearted quasi-caper movie without the caper. There's a touch of whimsy (not to mention immorality) to the movie, and it holds your attention, but it never really amounts to much. Caan [Games] is excellent, however, playing in just the right note; Boyle [Outland], Lasser, and Alan Garfield as a lawyer are also good, but Kellerman was still in that weird, off-putting mode she was in early in her career. There are a couple of laughs and some suspense of a minor kind. An ugly moment occurs when Kitty refers to a black character as "some dumb spade," an unnecessary slur even given the craziness of her character. Surely Kellerman, one of the stars of the movie, had enough clout at the time to insist on a change?

Verdict: Rather pointless when all is said and done. **1/2.

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