Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesday's Overlooked Movies: The Late Show

This is another private eye movie, from a year or so after NIGHT MOVES, which I wrote about last week. THE LATE SHOW stars Art Carney and Lily Tomlin, and with a cast like that, it's considerably cuter than the bleak NIGHT MOVES, as you'd expect. It even has Tomlin's character hiring Carney's private eye character to find her kidnapped cat. Cozy, you might be thinking . . . well, other than the fact that the movie starts with Carney's partner showing up with a bullet in the belly.

Yes, even though there's a cat in it, this movie is pretty darned hardboiled, and as usual in the genre, nothing is what it seems. Carney and Tomlin play off each other very well, and the rest of the cast – Bill Macy, the beautiful Joanna Cassiday, even Howard Duff, speaking of private eyes – do a fine job, too. Robert Benton, who wrote and/or directed some of the top movies of the Sixties, Seventies, and Eighties such as BONNIE AND CLYDE, KRAMER VS. KRAMER, and PLACES IN THE HEART, puts together a really entertaining film that falls solidly in the private eye genre. That said, while I enjoyed THE LATE SHOW a lot, I don't think it had the same impact on me that NIGHT MOVES did. I guess I'm just a grim, existential kinda guy.

That ends my brief trip back to the Seventies, although I don't rule out a return trip there in the future.


Anonymous said...

I loved THE LATE SHOW. It also has one of my favorite lines (by Tomlin): "Does the Pope sh!t in the woods?"

You had to be there.

Jeff M.

Unknown said...

Great pick. I like this one a lot.

Paul D Brazill said...

Smashing film!

pattinase (abbott) said...

I loved this film and I can truly say, they don't make them like this anymore.

Todd Mason said...

I like this film a lot, as well, though I can see how your existentialists might prefer NIGHT MOVES (this one is decidedly Kantian). I have a Japanese lp of the soundtrack, too...because it was on sale, new, for a buck and otherwise was cluttering up the record store I was working at at that time.

I dunno...they kinda make 'em like this these days, but usually with more attitude, or self-consciousness.

Juri said...

James, you'll have to end your trip with Benton's TWILIGHT, starring Paul Newman. It's on par with THE LATE SHOW.

Did you know that Benton was born in Waxahachie, Texas? Is that near where you live?

Anonymous said...

Art Carney was great. I haven't seen this one. Thanks for the rec.

Ed Lynskey

James Reasoner said...

Waxahachie is in the same general part of the state where I live, sixty or seventy miles from here. I've driven through there a few times, most recently a couple of years ago, but that's it. Although I've known several people from there, including including an actor who had his first role in BONNIE AND CLYDE (which Benton co-wrote) and went on to have small parts in several more of Benton's movies. I can't recall his name at the moment, though.