Friday, May 5, 2017

Brother, Cry for Me (1970)

Ostensibly telling a story about three brothers battling each other for control of an inheritance, Brother, Cry for Me is an incoherent mess. The first 15 minutes of the picture comprise a pointless scene of brawling and debauchery at a pool party. Things don’t improve from there. Michael (Richard Davatos) and his conniving wife, Jenny (Leslie Parrish), travel to Boca Raton after Michael receives a letter stating he’s the sole heir of—well, depending on which scene, it’s either a coffee plantation or a fortune in Aztec treasure. Upon arriving in Florida, Michael encounters his estranged brother, Geoffrey (Steve Drexel). Their other sibling, Jim (Larry Pennell), isn’t far behind. On land and in various rinky-dink boats, the brothers try to kill each other, with Geoffrey and Jim pursuing the additional motive of wooing Jenny away from Michael. Tracking the movie in any greater detail would require exhaustive rewinding, because the storytelling is disastrous. Bad actors share the screen with performers who are merely mediocre, but horrible filmmaking levels the playing field—with scripting and direction this bad, everyone comes off poorly. Worse, the film’s Floridian locations make every frame look cheap and oversaturated and ugly. The amateurism infusing the picture even taints simple transitional bits; in a particularly galling touch, the same hissing sound effect is used to accompany separate cutaway shots of an alligator and a snake. Really? Every reptile in the Everglades makes the exact same sound? By the time subplots about a larcenous youth and a police inspector enter the mix, Brother, Cry for Me has become hopelessly confused, and nothing prior to that point makes the trouble of figuring out what’s happening seem worthwhile.

Brother, Cry for Me: SQUARE

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