Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I don't know ... that 56/100 makes a big difference: "99 and 44/100% Dead"

Ever since seeing the VHS tape cover in the video store way back in the mid-1980s, I have always wondered what this movie was about. I mean, what a dumb title. Imagine my surprise when I saw it on TCM of Fox Movie Channel or whatever recently. A chance to solve of of life's great mysteries, second only to why poor rural people vote Republican? Sure, let's do it!

We open with some mob heavies dumping a guy with -- I kid you not -- concrete blocks on his feet into a river. Then we see this is fairly common. That is, throwing people into the river. How else to explain the underwater footage of all these dead people?

We're told how it works in this unnamed town -- the various gangs and the wars and all that. Before long, we meet Harry Crown, an enforcer played by Richard Harris, which sounds a little weird but actually works OK as long as you forgive his sloppy pageboy haircut.

Harry -- who carries a couple of automatic pistols with roses on the pearl handles (ergo, guns and roses) -- takes one side in a gang war and proceeds to make his way through town with a young guy who seems to be apeing Warren Beatty as his sidekick. Harry's also got a girl, the comely Ann Turkel, while the kid latches onto a hooker named Baby who is, as Ty Webb said, rather attractive for a beautiful girl with a great body.

One other person of note for all you western fans: Chuck Connors as "Claw" Zuckerman, the bad guy's enforcer with ... wait for it ... a missing hand! Wonder how it went missing. Think Harry had anything to do with it? Still, there's a fun scene where Claw shows Baby all the things he can attach to his stump. Maybe he and Dr. Klahn from "Kentucky Fried Movie" can swap accessories.

Ultimately, this movie is the weird cousin of "Get Carter," with Harris as smoldering Irishman to Caine's smoldering Brit. He has plenty of tough guy scenes that are just kind of odd given that hair, and the movie overall is just a little bizarre. John Frankenheimer directed, and he's obviously done better, i.e. "The Manchurian Candidate." But this one also is no "Reindeer Games." Maybe group it with "Ronin." Not as serious, but more of a curiosity. And a better-looking girl named Baby than in that damn "Dirty Dancing."


At 12:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw this when it first showed up on HBO years ago, and indeed the two images that stick with me are of the floating underwater bodies at the beginning and the maniacally handicapped Chuck Connors. Add in the title, a riff on the old Ivory Soap slogan, and you have to call it more a black comedy than anything else, although it's not so much funny as it is odd. A curiosity for sure.

At 1:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay. This has nothing to do with the last post but I just watched "the happening" on PPV. I can't find it on your previous blogs but if we can't actually kill M. Night Shamalamadingdong can we at least bar him from making any more movies. That was painful. The story, the acting, the stilted dialog, the awkward, forced exposition. Betty Buckley. Seriously. Stop. i want my $4.99 back and that 96 minutes of my life. Should have gotten "Prom Night" or "M. Prom Night Shamaylan" No..Wait. That would've sucked too.

At 1:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. Now I know what that smell is coming from my Netflix queue.


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