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US, 1968, 109 minutes, Colour.
George Peppard, Gayle Hunnicut, Raymond Burr, Colleen Gray, Susan Saint James, Wilfrid Hyde White, Brock Peters.
Directed by John Guillermin.

A tough private eye thriller. There was a popularity of these films in the late sixties, for example, Paul Newman as Harper, Steve McQueen as Bullet. George Peppard had built up a role as the tough, private eye type in a number of films and was to continue this in his television series, Banacek.

The film creates the atmosphere of New York and its wealth as well as the moody aspects of the city. PJ generally follows in the traditional line of Chandler private eyes. Raymond Burr acts as villain and Gayle Hunnicut is an ambiguous heroine.

The film was directed by John Guillermin, an English director who had mado quite a number of small budget films in his early career, had moved to bigger films with Peter Sellers in The Waltz of the Toreadors and then moved to America with George Peppard in The Blue Max and The House of Cards. At this time he made a number of action films including El Condor and Shaft In Africa. He was to make Towering Inferno, King Kong and Death on the Nile.

1. The popularity of the private eye thriller? The background of wealth and luxury, finance, gangsters? The tradition of the private eye as American hero? from Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett? The popularity in the sixties? The title of the film and its focus on PJ? The film as a George Peppard vehicle?

2. Audience acceptance of the conventions of the private eye? his seedy background, a loner, his getting on with the job, ambiguous relationship with the police? His clothes? A man of action, his being invited by crooked businessmen? A mysterious lady? Deaths, ambiguities, detection? Violence and danger? The private eye on the side of right? Basic values? The expectations of this film and its quality?

3. New York, the West Indies? The editing and pace? Violence and suspense? The breeziness of the score?

4. The introduction to the world of William Orbison? Orbison as a type, Raymond Burr's presence and style? The use of the subjective camera to keep the assassin anonymous? The following through of this mystery? Orbison and his presence throughout the film, his ambiguous attitudes towards M., Maureen and everyone? The focus on the idiosyncrasies of Orbison especially as regards money? The red herrings in the plot? The double mystery of the killer and the victim? The setting of American wealth, power, family, gloominess? The jet set and the West Indies?

5. The character study of M? In the bar, friendship with Charlie? The phone calls and his vanity in getting the job? The irony of his being the "tall M"? His protection of Maureen and his failure? The ambiguous attitudes of Orbison towards him? Jason and his attitudes? The relations of Orbison? M. at the family parties, at home, the shot at Maureen? The move into self-doubt, his wanting to discover the truth for his own integrity?

6. Maureen as the glamorous type, the kept woman? Audience judgment on her? M's not giving judgment? Friendship, protection? Her roars at the killing attempts? Her presence at the parties, her going to the West Indies? The irony of the truth and M's discovery of it, the confrontation? The reality of her relationship with Orbison?

7. The sub-plot of Jason, his background, relationship with Orbison, his self-importance, the mystery of his father, the information against tho firm, the contract on him? The irony of his death in the West Indies? P.J.s visit to his family and their willingness to co-operate? Tracking down Jason's connections?

8. Betty Orbison and her being disregarded by her husband? Anger and jealousy? Clashes with Jason? Orbison's other relatives? especially Lynette and her presence? The old woman and her weak son and their violent attempts, letters?

9. The West Indies and the change of pace, the parties, action? the meeting of Maureen and Betty? The setup for Jason's death and P.J.s presence?

10. The humour of the governor and Wilfrid Hyde White's style, attitude towards the Colonies? The police official and his warnings, his being bought off, his alliance with M., the sending of Jason's corpse back to America?

11. M. and his return, Orbison's surprise, Maureen, the sexual liaison, the discovery of the truth and the final confrontation?

12. Orbison and his shooting, the showdown and the shots? The violence and deaths?

13. Audience interest in the private eye plot, involvement? The enjoyment of these films and their solution? The theme of the moody hero and his integrity, appearances and reality?

Created by: coffey last modification: Saturday 18 of July, 2009 [20:25:05 UTC] by malone

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