Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
Stanley Donen's "Lucky Lady" is a big, expensive, good-looking flop of a movie; rarely is so much effort expended on a movie so inconsequential. It's a star vehicle, but the stars don't really get to do their stuff. It's a period piece, but most of the time the period is either unnecessary or unbelievable. It's an adventure story in which we can't accept most of the characters and don't care much about the rest. And it's not much fun.
It's about rum-running during Prohibition. The Atlantic Coast and the Canadian border are pretty much monopolized by the mob, we're told, but down around San Diego pure anarchy reigns in the booze-smuggling industry. There are a lot of amateurs, running anything from pleasure yachts to fishing boats; bootlegging is a cottage industry. When good old Harry, a smuggler we never meet, gets bumped off in an unfortunate development, his widow (Liza Minnelli) decides to go into business with her lover (Burt Reynolds) and a partner who wanders in out of the dark (Gene Hackman).
What they do looks easy. They sail out beyond the territorial limit, pick up cases of Johnny Walker Red, bring it in and sell it at a $30,000 profit. When the Coast Guard tails them, they give it the slip in the night. Then they check into an impossible hotel that's maybe supposed to be the Del Coronado in San Diego -- but it's too lovely, too sumptuous and too dazzlingly white to have ever existed on this planet. Maybe it's left over from "At Long Last Love."
There are, alas, some problems. The mob is determined to organize bootlegging in southern California, by force if necessary, and has sent a sinister little man in a homberg (John Hillerman) to see to things. He's the most interesting character in the movie, even though it shouldn't really be that way; he has a nice, prissy, cold perfectionism, as if he were a particularly violent accountant. He and his men use bulletproof, high-powered boats, but our heroes hold them off with Molotov cocktails.