Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
Conscience makes cowards of us all. Consider Rod Steiger, playing a Mafia boss from Arizona, now safely stashed away in his well-guarded Swiss chalet. He is beyond risk, now, except for one loophole: His mistress, the lovely Jackie, is on the loose and may talk. Unfortunate, but Jackie is going to have to be rubbed out.
But now Steiger listens to his henchmen discuss the current state of the art of kidnaping and assassination in Europe. "One case, what they did," a thug says, "is cut off the guy's finger and send it through the mail as proof that they was hangin' on to him. Of course, the Italian mails bein' so slow..."
"Fingers?" shouts Steiger. "What's all this about fingers!" The talk obviously depresses him, now that he has to contemplate the death of the only one who loves him. When Jackie is killed, he declares, he wants it quick and painless. No messing around. The best killer money can buy. To underline his determination, he marches over to an expensive buffet and spills it all on the ground.
Jackie, meanwhile, is no longer necessarily the one who loves him. She has met Charles Bronson, the Phoenix cop who has followed Steiger all the way to Europe to avenge the death of one of his men. Is Jackie on Bronson's side? Is she a loyal decoy, unaware that Steiger plans to kill her? Or is she the dippy blond she appears to be, with her Dolly Parton wig and her hayseed accent?