In the 70’s and 80’s, there was no one bigger in the world of stand up and comedy than the legendary Richard Pryor (The Toy). That is why for today’s film I chose to watch a film from late in his career in Critical Condition. Kevin Lennihan (Pryor) is kind of a con man, but more of a Bullsh** artist if you ask me. One day as he was going to ask a mobster for a loan, he is framed alongside the mobster in a jewel smuggling scheme which sends him to jail. After faking that he is insane, he is sent to a psych ward at a hospital for them to evaluate him to tell if he’s insane or not. One night during a major storm, he is mistaken in the hospital for a doctor and he has to BS his way out of it. The film also stars Bob Saget (Full House) as Dr. Joffe, Rachel Ticotin (Total Recall) as Rachel, Rubén Blades (Fear The Walking Dead) as Louis, Joe Mantegna (Baby’s Day Out) as Chambers, Bob Dishy (Don Juan Demarco) as Dr. Foster, Sylvia Miles (Midnight Cowboy) as Nurse Lesser, Randall “Tex” Cobb (The Golden Child) as Box, Joe Dallesandro (Flesh For Frankenstein) as Stucky, and the film was directed by Michael Apted (Enough).
This was definitely an interesting film to say the least, but it’s one that I felt was a little all over the place. At first I thought we were going to get a film that was about him trying to prove that he is insane, but then it turns into a film where he’s trying to get by pretending to be a doctor hoping that no one will catch him. I have to be honest in saying that the best part of the film is when he becomes the doctor because you can kind of see the brilliance that was Richard Pryor come out on screen. There is the awful cast rapping scene, the helicopter scene, and even the scene where he’s is negotiating with the drug addicts that was pretty good. Some of my favorite scenes also took place in the psych ward, but it as scenes without Pryor in them. They really gave Mantegna and Cobb the spotlight during those scenes as Mantegna’s character is trying to negotiate his way out of there. I have to admit as well that Bob Saget really held his own in this film as he has some memorable moments and if you look you’ll notice a young Wesley Snipes as an ambulance driver. Of all the Pryor films that I have seen (which is not a lot) this is definitely not my favorite one. I am not saying that it was a bad film, but it’s probably just one that once was enough for me. I am going to give the film an B-/C+ for a final grade. It’s somewhere between those two.
I figured since I watched a film that had an Oscar winner in it yesterday, I would do the same for today. The film I chose for today, Midnight Cowboy, won Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay in the 1970 Oscars. The film stars Jon Voight (Mission: Impossible) as Texan Joe Buck and Dustin Hoffman (The Graduate) as New Yorker Ratso. For Joe Buck, he has this idea that he’s too big in the hustling game for Texas and so he decides to move to New York to better his hustling game. For Ratso, things can’t get any worse for this New Yorker and he’s had enough of the big city so all he wants to do is move to Florida. Together, the two of them will form a very unlikely bond as they try to survive the streets of New York. The film also stars Sylvia Miles (Wall Street) as Cass, John McGiver (Breakfast At Tiffany’s) as O’Daniel, Brenda Vaccaro (Zorro: The Gay Blade) as Shirley, Jennifer Salt (American Horror Story) as Annie, Barnard Hughes (TRON) as Towny, Viva (The Man Without A Face) as Gretel McAlbertson, and the film was directed by John Schlesinger (The Falcon And The Snowman).
The first thing that should sell you on the film is the fact that Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight star in the film. The second thing about this film that should sell you is that for 1969, it definitely pushed the boundaries of what was seen on film. Jon Voight has a sexual act performed on him by a man in the film and is the most unluckiest hustler or the worst. Both Voight and Hoffman lost the Oscar for Best Leading Actor to the duke John Wayne even though they deserved it after watching this. Dustin Hoffman has one of the best performances I have seen in a long time and his transformation was Oscar worthy. First of all, he sells that he’s this low down in the dumps New Yorker and he looks like he hasn’t showered in months. What more could you possibly want from the man? We are always led to believe that is what you have to do if you want to win an Oscar. Meanwhile, Jon Voight plays this clean cut cowboy in the big city who is a little naive because he’s not used to the hustle and bustle of the big city. I am not going to give away the ending of the film, but it’s kind of sad and bittersweet. I totally didn’t see it coming, but that is what I loved about it too. The film is gritty and it features a cool segment where they are at a Warhol party. This is classic cinema at it’s best and definitely a film worth watching if you are trying to be a cinephile. I am going to give the film an A for a final grade.