52 Pick-Up (1986)

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52 Pick-Up: Directed by John Frankenheimer. With Roy Scheider, Ann-Margret, Vanity, John Glover. A secret fling between a man and his mistress leads to blackmail and murder.

“Iu0026#39;ve only read one of Leonardu0026#39;s crime novels and it didnu0026#39;t impress me much with its style. The guy writes as if heu0026#39;s producing a technical manual with people instead of parts. But the plot was interesting and dense, as it is in this movie. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eRoy Scheider never turns in a bad performance, and here his face is beginning to look comely and battered with time. Heu0026#39;s also from Orange, New Jersey, which is a good place to start from. Scheider is Harry, a morally flawed businessman with a mechanical bent. Ann-Margaret is breathtakingly good looking, and her performance is exceptional. The same could be said of Vanity, but her part is rather small. The villains are all superb. John Glover is a delight to watch on screen — and to listen to — with that slimy smile and midlands Maryland accent that descends into working-class vulgar when the situation calls for it. Heu0026#39;s the kind of villain who would enjoy pulling hooks out of fish. He and Scheider played well off one another in u0026quot;The Last Embrace.u0026quot; Clarence Williams is a sort of doggedly cunning and brutal muscleman, done quietly but effectively.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThereu0026#39;s something oddly amusing about Williamsu0026#39; villainy. After Scheider and Ann-Margaret have clobbered him following a botched murder attempt (a little hard to believe), he sits in a chair having his picture taken while Scheider implants in his mind a few seeds of doubt about the probity of his partners in crime. An expression of dumb comprehension creeps slowly over his face and his eyes squint over his bleeding nose.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eRobert Trebor (terrific name, by the way, a palindrome) gives a nearly perfect imitation of a guy who is a sweating, shaking, desperately twitching nervous wreck, but still with his eye pinned on profit and, mostly, survival. What a trio of villains. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe plot is, as I say, dense, but not difficult to follow. The story is in a style that Northrop Frye called low mimetic: Scheider is no hero, and in fact no better than the rest of us. Thatu0026#39;s what makes his outwitting of the trio so interesting. Frankenheimeru0026#39;s direction is fine, no flashy shots or dazzling fireworks. The story pulls a viewer along on its own terms. Not a masterpiece, but a cleverly done genre piece, itu0026#39;s worth seeing. Canu0026#39;t imagine why people flock to schlock while a movie like this goes by mostly unnoticed.”


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