In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_sin_city_a_dame_to_kill_for_ver13

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

"Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" doesn't have the electricity of the original, mainly because we've already seen it. Nothing more is really revealed…

Thumb_pqlny7o714q2rle1gszmorzzjue

To Be Takei

“To Be Takei” is a conventional documentary that has a surprising emotional heft. A fun, informative exploration of the life of actor, activist and Trekkie…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Chaz's Blog Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Reviews

Duffy

  |  

Not many directors know how to handle pauses. John Ford was the master; an actor would speak a line, and that would mean one thing, and then nobody in the room would say anything at all for 10 seconds, and then the line and the scene would mean something else.

Pauses are especially crucial in comedy. Pauses may even be comedy. It wasn't what W. C. Fields said so much as the time he took to say it. And in John Huston's "Beat the Devil," the dialog was funny because Humphrey Bogart held back in conversations where Robert Morley and Jennifer Jones were hurrying ahead.

Robert Parrish's "Duffy" is a movie mostly made up of pauses. Unhappily, Parrish does not understand the pause, and so what we mostly get are dead spaces with James Coburn smiling enigmatically.

A pause is not a time when nothing is happening; a pause is a time when everything is happening. Why Parish chose to shoot "Duffy" in such a curious style is beyond me, but you may even enjoy the movie because the timing and editing are handled so badly -- yet with such great pretension.

The story is another of those Colorful Gang Plans Complicated Robbery, extravaganzas. Like "Thomas Crown Affair," the movie is not really about the robbery, but about the relationships of the people planning it.

Coburn plays Duffy, a typical Coburn character if ever there was one: itinerant merchant seaman, international smuggler, inventor, lover and inhabitor of a weird Tangiers pad entirely filled with plaster-of-paris statues of various portions of the human anatomy.

He gets involved with two half-brothers (James Fox and John Alderton) who team up with Susannah York to steal a million pounds from their father. But first there is this incredible personal relationship to be worked out. As nearly as I could gather, Miss York started with Fox, seemed to come on over to Coburn's side and then got involved in a double cross involving the father (James Mason).

The reason it was so hard to tell was because of the pauses. "Well," Coburn would say, and then he would smile the Coburn smile, and five seconds would elapse. "Yes," Miss York would say, and shrug the Julie Christie shrug. Seven seconds. "Then . . . " Coburn would speculate. "Quite," Miss York would agree.

Popular Blog Posts

Different rules apply

White privilege, lived.

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Ferguson, Missouri: Third World America vs. Atlas Shrugged

An FFC looks at the horrible situation in Ferguson, MO and what it says about where we are and where we're going.

Retrieving the Grail: Robin Williams and "The Fisher King"

An examination and appreciation of one of Robin Williams' greatest films, "The Fisher King."

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus