|FINGERS (director/writer: James Toback; cinematographer: Mike Chapman; editor: Robert Lawrence; cast: Harvey Keitel (Jimmy "Fingers" Angelelli), Tisa Farrow (Carol), Jim Brown (Dreems), Michael V. Gazzo (Ben), Marian Seldes (Ruth, Mother), Carole Francis (Christa), Danny Aiello (Butch), Ed Marinaro (Gino), Tanya Roberts (Julie), Georgette Muir (Anita), Lenny Montana (Luchino), Dominic Chianese (Arthur Fox), Tony Sirico (Riccamonza); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: R; producer: George Barrie; Warner Home Video; 1978)|
|"It blends together high and low
Toback bet on this combo to win despite its
by Dennis Schwartz
provocateur filmmaker, with a
gambling problem and a degree from Harvard, in
one of his earliest films, James Toback ("Harvard
Man"/"Black & White"/"The Pick-up Artist"),
directs this daring downbeat gangster psycho-drama. It
blends together high and low culture ,as if Toback bet
on this combo to win despite its long odds.
"Fingers" Angelelli (Harvey Keitel)
is a confused NYC lad, who practices and practices a
Bach suite for his upcoming Carnegie Hall audition.
The wannabe concert classical pianist, a talent
inherited from his Jewish mother (Marian
Seldes), meanwhile works for his
loan shark mafioso Italian father (Michael
V. Gazzo) collecting gambling debts by cracking
skulls and when necessary raping in the toilet the
mistress (Tanya Roberts) of someone who didn't pay his
obsessed with the 1960s funky song "Summertime
Summertime," the repressed and insecure Fingers is
obsessed with the sexually alluring sculptor Carol
(Tisa Farrow), from his SoHo neighborhood. But she
throws him off his game because she has a thing for
the cocky and violent bad-ass womanizing black stud
club owner, Dreems (Jim Brown).
produced independently by George Barrie, the
Brut perfume magnate, who Toback rips for the film's
box office woes by not releasing it properly.
oddity drama is interesting as a character study of
a man faced with deep inner problems (like his
sexual identity and questions if he's a homosexual),
and of presenting troubling societal issues of
inter-racial sex in such a frank way. It's a deeply
personal film that commendably pushes the boundaries
of taboo subjects to the edge, but the inexperienced
director lacked the experience to be given so much
freedom to make such a personal film and probably
could have benefited if there was a good producer
around to rein him in.
was remade by the French as "The Beat That My Heart
Skipped" (2005), with Jacques
Audiard directing. But the remake lacks the
freshness, immediacy and ability to pack a punch
like the original.
REVIEWED ON 3/5/2015 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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