Picture of the Week: Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round
At the beginning of this movie, in what I believe is one shot, a sexy woman performs a psychology session with a room full of inmates when prisoner Eli Kotch (played by James Coburn) tells an offbeat story about his mother. This is the perfect set up for what turns out to be one of the oddest and most entertaining crime films I’ve seen in a while.
Until a couple years ago, I had only heard of the film because of its connection to Harrison Ford: his first on-screen role in a minute scene. But the movie directed by Bernard Girard deserved more attention than that.
Following Coburn and then a group of thieves which includes Aldo Ray, the story revolved around his plan to rob an airport bank while the Russian premiere is arriving. But the robbery is not all that interesting compared to how Coburn gets there.
He pulls many accents and personalities out of his hat through the course of the film in order to get what he wants. Coburn is terrific, especially in the way that he manipulates women. He plays (and seems to have much fun playing) a master of charm and deception.
These moments provide for smiles, not laughs, in what (at it’s best) is a low-key, relaxed crime film. Even recent heist efforts such as Ocean’s Eleven do not capture the ease that Girard gets: the hard balance of telling a story quickly with a smooth pace. In fact, this is one of those films that although flawed should be watched more by filmmakers attempting to tackle the genre.
Unfortunately, the movie loses much of its charm (at least for me) in the last half when the robbery starts. The details and action prove boring compared to Coburns’ ordinary mischief but still Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round remains a fun movie.
Cinema Station: Our 100th Entry Milestone
We started this blog for one reason and one reason only. To talk about and share our thoughts and cinematic pleasures with anyone who might be interested. It is now a little over a year since we started and our surprises are multiple. First the amount of people who have looked in on us. The number is rapidly approaching ten thousand. Then there are all the people who write or talk to us privately about the various entries. And now having logged in a hundred different entries is also a surprise because I for one didn’t know that I had so much to say about the subject. But then again it shouldn’t be because I have been seriously watching and attending movies for more than fifty years. So naturally all sorts of notions, observations, opinions and ideas have accumulated in my mind that it would probably take me another 50 years to get them said or written down. Because for me the world of the cinema is infinite. An alternate universe that is limitless and this blog Cinema Station is just one small planet in a galaxy of other blogs and websites in the vast expanse of space called “The Internet”. I also like to think that this blog Cinema Station is similar to planet Earth in our solar system in that it is a warm inviting place full of countries, islands, cays, inlets and promontories that can sustain all aspects of life in the form of memories and celluloid images inspired by or born on the silver screen. And in doing so we perpetuate and celebrate various aspects of human existence and human endeavor of every kind.
Somewhere at another time I said that I worshipped at the Cathedral of Godard. I was of course being facetious. But in another sense I was being truthful because I see cinema as a church. A church where we worship and revere the beauty and excellence of art, a place where we value and preserve the poetry of human existence. A church where the directors, writers, stars and all other creative personnel are our saints, the white screen (of any size or shape) our Holy Grail and the search of good and great movies our unending quest.
“If God didn’t exist mankind would have to invent him” someone once said. It is the same with movies. It didn’t exist therefore mankind had to create it. Now we have it and treasure it because it reflects and represents us in ways no other art form can. It represents our closest link with immortality. And with advancement and technology it is constantly changing and reinventing itself which is why it is such a vital and healthy art.
So we thank you for visiting us here at CINEMA STATION AND INVITE YOU TO COMEBACK AS OFTEN AS YOU LIKE AS WE EMBARK ON OUR SECOND MILESTONE.