Friday, August 5, 2011

The Four Deuces (1976)

An awful gangster-themed comedy/thriller featuring Jack Palance at his all-over-the-map worst, The Four Deuces has a few interesting flourishes that are worth noting, if not necessarily worth watching. The movie uses comic-book text panels during transitions between sequences, plus actual comic-book drawings that morph into live-action photography, so the idea is apparently to present a ’30s-era newspaper strip come to life—if, in fact, “life” is the right word for a movie so utterly lacking in vitality. The story is standard stuff about a mob boss whose main squeeze two-times him while he’s trying to win a bloody conflict with a rival hoodlum, and the generic quality of the picture is accentuated by costumes and props that all look they’re fresh off the rack; one gets the impression that dodgy producers rented everything instead of buying or manufacturing. As for the alleged comedy elements of the movie, not a single funny thing happens, unless enduring sped-up Kesystone Kops-style chases or watching the ghoulish Palance laugh hysterically while he kills people hits your sweet spot. Seeing Palance bounce between cringe-worthy over-acting and limp under-acting is nothing new; nor is watching leading lady Carol Lynley, of The Poseidon Adventure fame, demonstrate an utter lack of dynamism. Thus, the only disappointment is watching Adam Roarke spin his wheels in yet another pointless role: A handsome, intense player from ’60s exploitation flicks who never found his breakthrough role, he’s a cipher as the hotshot reporter who tags along with Palance’s gang and hops into the sack with Palance’s moll (Lynley). Especially since the movie’s only novel element, the comic-book stylization, was used more effectively in other pictures, like the exceedingly weird 99 and 44/100% Dead (1974), it’s safe to say The Four Deuces is not a winning hand.

The Four Deuces: LAME

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