Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Man, a Woman, and a Bank (1979)



          Elevated by a charming leading performances but weighed down by a sleepy storyline, the Canadian-made heist comedy A Man, a Woman, and a Bank is pleasant to watch even though it lags frequently and leaves only the faintest impression on the viewer’s memory. Donald Sutherland, all bright smiles and twinkling eyes, plays Reese, an ambitious schemer with an idea for casing a construction site in order to rob the bank that’s being built there as soon as the bank opens to the public. Actor/director Paul Mazursky, participating here only as a performer, plays Reese’s doughy sidekick, Norman, a computer programmer experiencing a midlife crisis. Rounding out the main cast, offbeat beauty Brooke Adams plays Stacey, an ad-agency photographer who stumbles into a romantic relationship with Reese that threatens to complicate the robbery. Orchestrating these inconsequential shenanigans is director Noel Black, whose all-over-the-map career arguably peaked with his first feature, the acidic murder story Pretty Poison (1968). Set to bouncy music by Bill Conti, A Man, a Woman, and a Bank was obviously envisioned as a frothy romantic caper, with the buddy-comedy antics of Norman and Reese providing a counterpoint to the love-struck interplay between Reece and Stacey. Alas, the script by Bruce A. Evans, Raynold Gideon, and Stuart Margolin misses the mark again and again.
          The obstacles related to the robbery are too easily surmounted. The friction between Norman and Reese is too soft, because instead of challenging each other, the characters support each other almost unconditionally. Most problematically, the romance between Reese and Stacey fails to generate suspense—Reese’s lies about his activities endanger the relationship, but Stacey doesn’t learn enough secrets to imperil Reese’s plans, at least not until the very end of the story. Because of these narrative issues, long stretches of A Man, a Woman, and a Bank unfold without any dramatic conflict. Yes, the bit of Norman and Reese hiding from security guards in an elevator shaft has a smidgen of suspense, and yes, it’s possible to become sufficiently invested in the Reese/Stacey relationship to worry about the union’s survival. Overall, however, A Man, a Woman, and a Bank is frustratingly bland, and it doesn’t help that Mazurky plays his sad-sack role so credibly he engenders more empathy than amusement. While Black’s slick style ensures that every scene is polished, Adams’ warmth and Sutherland’s charm are the best reasons to overlook the picture’s mediocrity.

A Man, a Woman, and a Bank: FUNKY

1 comment:

William Blake Hall said...

Wild that Sutherland and Adams had just gotten done likewise playing the lead couple in the Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake.