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July 17, 2019, 04:03:50 PM
626075 Posts in 48444 Topics by 6582 Members
Latest Member: Sanderxbs Forum  |  Movies  |  Bad Movies  |  WINTER KILLS (1979) « previous next »
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Author Topic: WINTER KILLS (1979)  (Read 510 times)
The Burgomaster
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« on: July 07, 2005, 06:53:15 PM »

This is an odd comedy/thriller from the author of THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE and PRIZZI'S HONOR that didn't quite work for me.  On a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best), I'd give it about a 6.5.

The story is heavily based on the people and events surrounding the John F. Kennedy assassination.  The Kennedy name was changed to "Kegan" for this movie.  Names of other key figures were also changed.  For instance, the Jack Ruby character (played by Eli Wallach) is named "Joe Diamond."

Anyway, Jeff Bridges plays the half-brother of deceased President Kegan.  He hears the deathbed confession of a man who claims he was "the second shooter" responsible for President Kegan's assassination.  The dying assassin even tells Bridges where he can find the rifle.

Bridges sets off to piece together the mystery of who ordered the assassination, and suddenly we are in the middle of another "conspiracy theory" movie.  Clues lead to the mob, the Cubans, a demented tank commander (played by Sterling Hayden), a notorious "madam" (played by Elizabeth Taylor), and various other oddball characters.

John Huston turns in one of his typical "larger than life" performances as the patriarch of the Kegan family.  He's a horny, foul-mouthed old coot who I wanted to slap every time he was on screen.

For me, the mix of mystery and humor just didn't work.  I think this would have been much better if it had been a straight thriller.  (But, maybe it would have been too much like THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE or even THE PARALLAX VIEW if they had played it as a serious piece).

I do need to commend the casting director, though:

* Jeff Bridges
* John Huston
* Anthony Perkins
* Richard Boone
* Sterling Hayden
* Eli Wallach
* Ralph Meeker
* Elizabeth Taylor
* Damn . . . even Candice Rialson (from CANDY STRIPE NURSES) and Tisa Farrow (from Lucio Fulci's ZOMBIE) are in it!


"Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me either. Just pretty much leave me the hell alone."
Yaddo 42
Frightening Fanatic of Horrible Cinema

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Posts: 1629

Where's that brick.......

« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2005, 12:28:25 PM »

Sorry you didn't like this so much. This has become one of my all time favorite films since I bought the DVD. I had heard of it for years, and it was one of the few times that after all that time of building expectations that the payoff was completely worth it for me.

I loved it because it was such a wild conspiracy nut satire, it's kind of how I picture the inner working of Oliver Stone's brain operating. Like "The President's Analyst" it has that wild mix of action, bizarre plot twists, small touches of drama, and odd humor that I seem to go for. The viewer is meant to be as disoriented as Bridges' character when it's over. The confrontation with Anthony Perkins and the convoluted explanations of what's REALLY going on are the heart of the film, as well as my favorite scene.

When it was first released theatrically after a troubled production, AVCO/Embassy Pictures actually did cut out most of the satiric elements and the film did little at the box office. But after the long tortured history it had up until then it people may have wanted to just write it off.

You left out a couple of cast members of note:

Toshiro Mifune - the director says on the commentary that he wanted to show how powerful the family was by making all the servants and employees strong powerful people as well.

Dorothy Malone - the director originally wanted Dorothy McGuire, but he gave the casting director the wrong name. Malone was so glad someone had requested her for a good role, and he said she auditioned well also, that he put her in the film.

Joe Spinell - "the second shooter" burned and dying at the beginning of the film. He was buddies with Bridges who often got him roles in his films.

Tomas Milan - the Cuban mobster. This was him attempt to break into American films. The director said he practiced every word and movement for months for his scene, since the film was shut down, but he so wanted to nail the role of a man much older than him.

Sen. John Warner - He was married to Taylor at the time, and he sat in on her scene playing the president, well his arm anyway.

I recommend the Anchor Bay DVD with a great documentary about all the trouble they had making the film. Someone should make a film based on that, it'd make a wild Hollywood satire itself. It also has some stories from the director about some of the cast. Like Sterling Hayden offering him pot in a crowded ritzy restaurant, how Richard Boone wound up being one of the few people to be paid for the film, or how Anthony Perkins got hurt during a prop mix up but still nailed the scene.

As you can tell, I love this movie.

blah blah stuff blah blah obscure pop culture reference blah blah clever turn of phrase blah blah bad pun blah blah bad link blah blah zzzz.....
The Burgomaster
Aggravating People Worldwide Since 1964
Frightening Fanatic of Horrible Cinema

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« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2005, 12:58:59 PM »


I'll definitely give it another try.  I usually enjoy twisted, oddball type movies, but this one just didn't grab me.


"Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me either. Just pretty much leave me the hell alone."
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