DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

THE FAN (director/writer: Edward Bianchi; screenwriters: from a novel by Bob Randall/Priscilla Chapman/John Hartwell; cinematographer: Dick Bush; editor: Alan Helm; music: Pino Donaggio; cast: Lauren Bacall (Sally Ross), Michael Biehn (Douglas Breen), James Garner (Jake Berman), Maureen Stapleton (Belle Goldman), Hector Elizondo (Raphael Andrews), Kurt Johnson (David), Dana Delaney (Record Clerk); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Robert Stigwood; Paramount; 1981)

"Chilling but unrealistic stalker film."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

It's based on the 1978 novel by Bob Randall. Director Edward Bianchi ("Off and Running"), a former director of TV commercials, in his directorial debut, helms this chilling but unrealistic stalker film that he co-writes with Priscilla Chapman and John Hartwell. There's nothing much to ponder about a psycho admirer stalking a famous actress, especially when there's nothing more to it.

The glamorous but aging self-absorbed middle-aged Hollywood star Sally Ross (Lauren Bacall) is to star in an upcoming Broadway musical and is nervous about it. She's divorced from the hubby Jake Berman (James Garner) she still loves, and is now pestered by a young fan, Douglas Breen (Michael Biehn). He's a record store clerk who bombards her with personal fan letters and requests for photos. When Sally's sassy assistant (Maureen Stapleton) stops answering him, the rebuffed fan slashes her on the subway and becomes increasingly more delusional and dangerous to the actress.

The film is all about the Bacall character coping with the theater and her personal life problems. The other characters just seem like props, who are around only to fill in gaps in the story. There's the younger boyfriend played by Kurt Johnson and the ineffectual but genial police inspector played by Hector Elizondo.

One of the film's seediest scenes features a throat slit in a gay bar during a blow job.

Garner had little to do in his meaningless role as a Hollywood director. Afterwards, the insulted star, said he only took the part because Bacall asked him to. It was released shortly after John Lennon was assassinated.

REVIEWED ON 4/26/2015       GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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