Saturday, June 03, 2006
Movies That Fell Through The Cracks # 8
Let’s face it, Rich Little is the kiss of death for a motion picture. I saw the famous impressionist live in 1979 or 1980 (with Suzanne Somers) and he put on a good show, ending up by shaking hands with just about everyone in the audience including me. Still, we’ve already discussed THE PHYNX and ANOTHER NICE MESS on this site and I’d be willing to bet that’s the ONLY place you’ve ever heard of them!
1981’s DIRTY TRICKS, although featuring Rich, was designed as a post CHARLIE’S ANGELS vehicle to make Kate Jackson into a film star. Sadly, it had a lot going against it besides Rich Little, not the least of which was a bad screenplay, poor distribution and the participation of Elliot Gould.
Gould, Barbra Streisand’s ex-husband, had been Hollywood’s golden boy just a decade earlier with BOB AND CAROL AND TED AND ALICE, M*A*S*H, CALIFORNIA SPLIT and Robert Altman’s THE LONG GOODBYE (as Phillip Marlowe). A long string of box office losers with diminishing returns had made him box office poison, too. (It’s not that all of his choices were poor. THE SILENT PARTNER and CAPRICORN ONE had been quite entertaining.)
A kind of mystery comedy, DIRTY TRICKS offers Gould as a professor on the run from various groups and a persistent TV reporter (Jackson) after coming into possession of a letter supposedly branding George Washington as a traitor.
Jackson, easily the best actress of TV’s T & A trio, had bounded from a silent role in DARK SHADOWS to a co-starring role in THE ROOKIES to the lead in CHARLIE’S ANGELS (although her spotlight would, of course, be eclipsed by Farrah’s smile). It was presumed by most that she could become a film star but it was not to be. In 1983, she turned up in the "talented amateur" role in TV’s SCARECROW AND MRS. KING, America’s pseudo remake of THE AVENGERS. It proved to be another longish-running hit for her and sealed her fate as a TV star. Since then, she’s worked steadily in the medium in between bouts of bad health which is more than you can say about Elliot Gould. Oh and when’s the last time you saw Rich Little on TV? That movie must have been bad luck. Somebody’s idea of a "dirty trick" indeed!