Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Hard Contract (1969)

Director: S. Lee Pogostin

Writer: S. Lee Pogostin

Composer: Alex North

Starring: James Coburn, Lee Remick, Lilli Palmer, Burgess Meredith, Patrick Magee, Sterling Hayden, Claude Dauphin, Helen Cherry, Karin Black, Sabine Sun

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Love. Murder. Everything they do is 97% control and 3% emotion.

Plot: A cold hearted American hit man goes to Europe for 'one last score'. His encounter with a beautiful young woman casts self doubt on his lifeblood, and influences him to resist carrying out the contract.

My rating:

Will I watch it again?  No.

There's a wonderful scene late in the film between Cunningham (Coburn) and Carlson (Hayden) that's worth sitting through an hour and twenty four minutes of mediocre drama to get to.  It's the meat of the picture and its heart.  We learn a lot about these two men and only one of them has found peace and welcomes his life.  The other still hasn't figured out where he wants his life to take him.  And one of them also shows he's a lot smarter than the other one realizes.  The cast does a fine job and the story is pretty good despite the casual pacing.  Some scenes feature some nice dialogue exchanges but since some of them don't involve Cunningham, they don't do much in furthering his plot.  On that level, the film fails somewhat by not sticking to the story but it's hard to diss them as I enjoyed the ideas presented are interesting to ponder.  Burgess Meredith is delightful and it's just a damn shame that he isn't living forever so he can be in everything.  And Sterling Hayden just proves that he got better with age.  Coburn is Coburn and he does a fine enough job until you see him happy and then he's the Derek Flint Coburn.  I suppose the ending works since it was written and directed by the same person you have to properly assume that it's exactly what he wanted.  I would've preferred something a lot darker.  It would've made it a different and perhaps better film, one that I'd prefer.

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