Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Detective (1968)

Frank Sinatra is a seen-it-all NYC detective on the verge of seeing far more than he ever bargained for when he starts investigating the case of a –- to use James Ellroy’s cruel terms –- homo-cide. The crime starts in a high-end flat with a corpse minus a pecker, but Sinatra’s Joe Leland don’t blink. Yet. The man also has off-job problems, dealing with the collapse of his marriage to a new ager Karen (Lee Remick). These latter scenes are a dud, especially the flashbacks as Joe meets Karen, each sequence intro’d by a twirly camera and goofy “You are getting sleepy!” music that would play better in a Marx Brothers spoof. Scenes involving the gay “lifestyle” are unintentionally hilarious-slash-insulting. Sinatra gives the roll his all, and the mystery is aces, but director (Gordon Douglas) drops balls. Speaking of, dig that perfectly placed fern. Too funny. Film geek alert: Based on a book, Leland got a new name and title in his next novel-to-screen adaptation, “Die Hard.” Yes, John McClane. B

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