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Monday 3 October 2011

Burl reviews Pocket Money! (1972)

Hi, Burl here to talk about a movie that’s almost a Western, but really it isn’t, kind of the same way Re-Animator is almost a zombie movie, but not quite! This one has all the Wild West trappings you could want: the horses, the cattle drives, the wide-open spaces, the six-guns and the hats! It even has an evil cattle baron, who’s, ha ha, maybe a little more whiny and pathetic than he is actively evil! Nevertheless, by Burl’s long-cultivated personal standardizations, it’s still not really a Western!

Paul Newman plays a loveable loser type of a guy, sporting the kind of voice you might put on if you were trying to imitate a particularly slow-witted chipmunk! His horses that he’s just brought in from Mexico are infected with the durine, so they have to go into quarantine; and meanwhile poor Paul is as broke as a skunk! He meets up with his semi-buddy Lee Marvin, and they make a deal with the shady cattle baron, none other than Strother Martin from Nightwing! And guess who plays Strother’s buddy? Ha ha, you guessed it, Trapper John M.D.!

Anyway, from there there’s not much of a story, but that didn’t bother me one bit! Ha ha, I like those sorts of movies, the 1970s shaggy-dog character pieces, and this is one of those in spades! But guess what, it’s funny and entertaining! Especially, I have to say, Lee Marvin, who plays Leonard and who had me just busting a gut from practically the first moment he appeared on screen! Ha ha, I know guys just like this, I thought to myself when he started to speak!

Pocket Money was based on a novel, but the screenplay was written by none other than Terence Malick, before he got around to making any movies of his own! I really like the script, actually, in particular how staunchly it resists any of the standard behaviours you might expect in this kind of picture! The climactic scene in the hotel room is a perfect example of this, and while I won’t go into any more detail here, you’ll probably know what I’m talking about when you see it!

And ha ha, I think you should see it the first chance you get! I give the movie three and a half Hector Elizondos and urge you to ignore all those reviews that complain about the shaggy-dog nature of the narrative – ha ha, aren’t there times when all you want is a big hug from a loveable shaggy Mr. Muggs-type mutt? For those special moments, there’s Pocket Money!

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