EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|RUNNING MAN, THE (aka: THE BALLAD OF THE RUNNING MAN) (director: Carol Reed; screenwriters: from the novel "The Ballad of the Running Man" by Shelley Smith/ John Mortimer; cinematographer: Robert Krasken; editor: Bert Bates; music: William Alwyn; cast: Laurence Harvey (Rex Black), Lee Remick (Stella Black), Alan Bates (Stephen Maddox), John Meillon (Jim Jerome), Felix Aylmer (Parson), Eleanor Summerfield (Hilda Tanner), Fernando Rey (Police Official); Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Carol Reed; Columbia; 1963-UK)|
|"The acting was stiff."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Disappointing routine thriller about insurance fraud
directed by Carol Reed ("Odd Man Out"/"Night Train to
Munich"/"The Third Man"), who was in a period of
creative decline in his later films. The once great filmmaker
Reed was unable to get any suspense, even into the
critical third act (though there's an ironic twisty
ending), and the acting was stiff. It's based on
the novel "The Ballad of the Running Man" by Shelley
Smith and is implausibly written by novelist and playwright
John Mortimer. The weak characters and bloated plot
line both take a back seat to the colorful location
shots of Spain by cinematographer Robert
Krasken (a Reed regular).
Rex Black (Laurence Harvey)
is a ne'er-do-well pilot running a struggling small
private cargo airline. He crashes his glider into a
rock on an island and learns from Prudential
Insurance Company that he can't collect because of a
lapsed policy (think of the rock as Prudential's
logo). A year later Rex fakes his death in another
glider crash into the ocean and his widowed wife
Stella (Lee Remick) collects £50,000
from the same insurance company. While his wife
collects from the insurance company in England,
after a visit from insurance agent Steve Maddox
(Alan Bates), Rex changes
name and appearance and flees to Malaga, Spain,
where he plans to meet his wife.
Posing as Australian sheep farmer millionaire
Jim Jerome (John Meillon), whose passport Rex
conveniently found in a bar when Jim was drunk, has
Rex thinking he's so smart and that things are at
last working out so well. His change in attitude as
a nasty rich man, doesn't sit well with wifey when
she meets him in Malaga. Things get dicey when
Maddox unexpectedly appears in Spain, claiming he's
on a holiday alone. The three become a threesome as
Rex tries to discover whether or not Maddox is onto
the scam. Rex miscalculates the situation and runs
Maddox off a cliff, nearly killing him. Things
become real messy when Rex tries to flee across
the border to Gibraltar, with the Spanish police in
pursuit, unaware that Maddox is no longer an
insurance man and really is on vacation and only
interested in scoring Stella.
Though the film is flat and not believable,
it's still technically sound.
REVIEWED ON 12/17/2010 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ