Laurence Olivier, Michael Caine Dir: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
So Joe Mank was hanging with Lord Laurence Olivier and Sir Michael Caine. No big. Okay, just kidding, huge big. This was Mankiewicz’ final film, and I can’t think of a better one to end with, especially considering what most of the films of the 70’s looked like. This is one of the best mysteries of all time. As Edmond Blackadder would say, “It twists and turns like a twisty turny thing.” Every time I see it I wish I had never seen it so that I can be surprised when things happen, but you can only see something for the first time once, and that can’t be blamed on this excellent movie.
I realize that a lot of people are listed in the opening credits, but I will only focus on Olivier and Caine, so as not to muddle your head. Olivier plays an aristocratic mystery writer and Caine plays a chic hairdresser. Oh, how different this would have been if they had named the movie “The Aristocrat and the Hairdresser”.
Let me give you a brief vague synopsis. Olivier summons Caine to his stately mansion to discuss Caine’s affair with Olivier’s wife and then it gets weird. Who wouldn’t want to watch it based on that synopsis alone? (I am SUCH a good writer)
Both Olivier and Caine were nominated for Best Actor for this picture. Guess who took home the Oscar? Nobody. Nobody at all. That was the year that Marlon Brando won for The Godfather and then “respectfully declined to accept it” because of the treatment of Native Americans in movies.
I want to give honorable mention to the set. It’s spectacular. Among the set pieces is a puzzle, the idea of which drives me to insanity, and a giant sailor doll that’s pretty alarming.
If you’ve never seen this film before, you’re very lucky to have the opportunity to watch it for the first time.