• It may be wishful thinking or just another fad, but there is a growing number of movies which deal with fictional attempts to assassinate real world leaders. The Day of the Jackal and the more recent Henessey centered around the would-be assassins as they made their plans and gave it their best shot, so to speak. The latest entry, RUSSIAN ROULETTE, concentrates instead on the man who is assigned to prevent an assassination at all costs. George Segal delivers a suitably intense and ironic performance as a Canadian policeman, recently suspended from the force for giving his chief a black eye. His superiors offer to reinstate him, provided he successfully removes a potential troublemaker from circulation during a state visit by Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin. The troublemaker, a refugee from Russia, has an understandable grudge against the Communists, who wiped out his entire family. But before Segal can carry out his mission, the man is mysteriously abducted by someone else. From here on, the plot becomes progressively thicker and more intricate; but momentum is sustained with several lively chase sequences and a suspenseful climax. Cristina Raines and Bo Brundin lend capable support, and Lou Lombardo's direction is well-paced. No ideological significance is intended or achieved in the film; it is simply a very complicated game of cat and mouse. Rated "PG." —Charles F. Barr
• Perhaps no other fictional character has been portrayed on film by as many actors as Raymond Chandler's private detective, Philip Marlowe. In FAREWELL, MY LOVELY, directed by Dick Richards, Robert Mitchum is the latest to try his hand at the role, and while he is certainly not the best Marlowe to appear on screen (Bogart in The Big Sleep), he is not the worst, either (Elliott Gould in The Long Goodbye). He is simply uninspired, and that is part of the problem. The film is a stylish remake of Murder, My Sweet, the 1945 version of the Chandler novel with Dick Powell and the great Claire Trevor, and achieves its greatest success in recreating the look and feel of Los Angeles three decades ago. But Mitchum, who gives a sluggish and monotonous performance, is disappointing as Chandler's cynical detective, and England's Charlotte Rampling, for all of her considerable beauty and elegance, is wooden and noticeably ill-at-ease in her effort to manage her American accent. The failure of these characterizations is a serious defect, since Chandler's characters are, on film at any rate, generally more interesting than his intricate and often confounding plots. Only Sylvia Miles appears to be right for the film in her sensitive performance of an aging alcoholic whose addiction to bourbon helps her forget that her life ended years ago. In spite of its achievement in recapturing the mood of the city and the times in which he wrote, Farewell, My Lovely remains counterfeit Chandler. Rated "R." —James F. Carey
• WHITE LINE FEVER, directed by Jonathan Kaplan, is a fast-paced little film that raises some significant issues but ultimately doesn't know where to take them. In a role reminiscent of Charles Bronson's in Death Wish and Duston Hoffman's in Straw Dogs, Jan-Michael Vincent plays a young independent trucker who takes a stand against the organization determined to force him out of business. The reason: Vincent's refusal to haul slot machines and other contraband for an outfit that controls local shippers. Vincent's reluctance appears to be motivated more by a fear of losing his trucking license than any moral position with respect to gambling. But the organization is not accustomed to such nice distinctions and undertakes to destroy Vincent, his family and all that he owns, aided in its efforts by the local police and prosecutor, who are on the payroll. What it doesn't count on is Vincent's fighting back and his ability to inspire other independents to join him. The clashes make for some lively action which soon dissipates as the plot rambles off to a dramatically hesitant finish. After developing some minor skirmishes between the two factions, the film is finally ambivalent in its statement about the impact of a group of individuals on an industry plagued with violence, corruption and state regulation. We are left with Vincent as a popular hero who has nevertheless suffered some major setbacks and is apparently at a stalemate with the forces he has been struggling against. Vincent, who is fast becoming a matinee idol of the B movie, does a creditable job as the hero, notwithstanding his unpleasant duty of appearing opposite Kay Lenz, an actress of ephemeral talent last seen with William Holden in Breezy. Rated "PG." —J.F.C.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Movies".
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