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

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_rock_dog

Rock Dog

I can report that it enraptured and delighted, and most importantly, made quiet, the houseful of little kids and their nannies with which I watched…

Thumb_get_out_ver2

Get Out

We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.

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…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Sundance Archives

Reviews

The Happening

  |  

Now here is a strange specimen.

"The Happening" pretends to be the story of four beach bums that kidnap Anthony Quinn. Quinn discovers to his horror that no one --his wife, his business partner, his friends in the mob, even his mother --will raise the cash to ransom him.

When the beach bums give up, Quinn himself takes command of the kidnapping, raises the ante to $3,000,000 and blackmails everyone --his wife, his business partner, his friends in the mob, even his mother.

That is what happens. How it happens is another matter. Elliott Silverstein has made a zany kind of film, half comedy and half self-mockery, in which the plot supplies something the characters can talk about when they run out of things to do.

Advertisement

Since there is no Happening in the film, the film itself is apparently meant to be a Happening. (Metaphysical concepts like this crawl in every time you even mention a Happening, but they can't be helped.) As I understand it, a Happening is a kind of spontaneous theatrical performance in which the characters improvise the situation, try to read each other's minds and change the rules from time to time to prove that the whole thing isn't real.

Silverstein's film more or less conforms. The beach bums land a borrowed yacht at Quinn's Miami home, engage in a toy machine-gun and bazooka battle with kids in military uniform and then chase Quinn's kid into the house.

Quinn comes downstairs in his pajamas, announces that it's a kidnapping, and directs operations as his wife and child are locked in a closet and he is bundled into the trunk of a car. And so on.

None of the characters bothers to be consistent except Quinn, who plays himself best anyway and does so here with his usual energy. Robert Walker, as the beach bum with the transistor plugged into his ear, seems half in this role and half in his next one; Michael Parks waves a gun around and invents Freudian hangups, and Faye Dunaway, in her first movie role, exhibits a real neat trick of resting her cheek on the back of her hand.

The film as a whole is well made, if a trifle slowly paced, and one or two of the comedy sequences are inspired.

This is not a great movie, but it is not a bad movie. It has several good laughs in it, and that is what a comedy is supposed to have, although not all of them do these days.

Popular Blog Posts

Netflix's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" an Unfunny Parody of Sadness

A review of Netflix's new series, Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events," which premieres January 13.

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

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

If We Picked the Winners 2017

The RogerEbert.com staff picks for the Oscars.

Predictions for the 89th Academy Awards

Our resident awards expert predicts who will go home with an Oscar on Sunday night.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus