The Last of Sheila Reviews

Page 1 of 5
jjnxn
Super Reviewer
June 20, 2007
great puzzle of a film with a great 70's cast!
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
January 25, 2006
[font=Century Gothic]In "The Last of Sheila", Clinton(James Coburn) is a wealthy film producer. One year after his beloved, Sheila(Yvonne Romaine), a gossip columnist, was killed by a hit and run driver, he has invited six friends - an actress(Raquel Welch), her tempestuous husband(Ian McShane), an agent(Dyan Cannon), a struggling writer(Richard Benjamin), his rich wife(Joan Hackett) and a director(James Mason) to spend a week on his yacht cruising in the Mediterranean under the auspices of possibly filming a biopic about Sheila but also to play a wicked game. The object of the game is to discover a person's secret and everyone aboard has one...[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"The Last of Sheila" is a lightweight mystery written by Anthony Perkins and Steven Sondheim. The film spends too much time in the setup and the ending is questionable but a good cast makes the most of the material.[/font]
alanjayh
Super Reviewer
June 7, 2008
interesting whodunit ala 10 little indians..colorful talented cast including
Coburn, Mason, Welch, Benjamin...problem was I thought too much trying to put the clues together to really enjoy what was happening on the screen...I liked it, just confused me at the end and never did figure it out despite several viewings..
½ January 6, 2015
Effective mystery movie, very well cast and written. Stephen Sondheim and Anthony Perkins are an interesting writing team, and they do a very good here. Some of the light Hollywood satire works pretty well, those lines are almost said under the breath of the characters are pretty cynical.
½ April 30, 2012
A wonderful puzzler of a mystery film and surely one of the least-known best movies of the 1970s! Perfectly cast too: Coburn, Cannon, Welch, Benjamin, Mason, Hackett, McShane. Watch it at least twice; the puzzle is an art. Great cast, effortless direction, terrific theme song by Bette Midler.
½ March 14, 2011
A wonderful puzzler of a mystery film and surely one of the least-known best movies of the 1970s! Perfectly cast too: Coburn, Cannon, Welch, Benjamin, Mason, Hackett, McShane. Watch it at least twice; the puzzle is an art. Great cast, effortless direction, terrific theme song by Bette Midler.
½ October 16, 2008
If you love mysteries, how could you not love this movie. It's the 70's spin on Hollywood era plus exotic locale and the Christie and Conan Doyle spin. Great performances by all and a terrific subversive undertones. A great movie to watch over and over again.

I am really ashamed that I didn't find out about this movie until about a year ago and that I left it in my Netflix queue for so long. I watched it 2 times in a row and then the commentary the next day.
October 13, 2008
Great whodunit mindfuck. Just kinky enough in places to remind you that this was made in the 70s, when the could get away with that in a PG flick.
November 18, 2014
Well, it seemed an appealing gimmick: a parlour game mystery written by Stephen Sondheim and Anthony Perkins and advertised as containing clues you need to be observant to catch and lots of red herrings. But alas, it isn't any deeper than that - fun while it lasts but ultimately insubstantial. James Coburn is engagingly charismatic as the vaguely sinister host who might be plotting to expose the hit-and-run killer of his wife as part of the game (which takes on board a cruise ship parked near the south of France). Richard Benjamin, Dyan Cannon, James Mason, and Raquel Welch are among the guests (this is the '70s, after all). Perhaps a better director than Herbert ("Footloose") Ross might have done something more distinctive with these materials. That said, I didn't guess the killer, so maybe this review represents sour grapes.
October 23, 2014
Probably the best mystery movie ever made, in the sense that it is the most like a mystery novel. Great camp script by Stephen Sondheim and Anthony Perkins, hampered by wildly uneven acting from a group of actors who could not possibly have less chemistry together. Everyone has some fine moments, but it doesn't gel. Still recommended if you like mystery novels or the 70's.
September 25, 2014
An articulate glimpse of what Hollywood thought was hip at the end of the 60s. The costuming is a prescient capsule of MAD-MEN-level period detail. The script is breezily clever and full inside jokes like accusing James Mason (of LOLITA fame) of child molestation. If you like exquisitely-plotted whodunits, (think Agatha-Christie-meets-Bob-Ted-Carole-and-Alice), you'll have a lot of fun with this. Oh. Did I mention that it was written by Anthony Perkins (gay star of PSYCHO) and Steven Sondheim?
March 13, 2014
Both Sondheim and Perkins were avid games players, so they wrote this screenplay as a lark, and when it turned out so good it was only natural to make the film. Herbert Ross is a workman, and high style isn't in his wheelhouse, but the screenplay is witty, the players seem to be having a high old time and it's great to look at. It's summer time and you could do far worse.
August 3, 2014
Roteiro de Anthony Perkins e Stephen Sondheim, dirigido por Herbert Ross e estrelado por Rachel Welch e James Mason. Ligação direta com os anos 70! Da série: "Você está cordialmente convidado para um assassinato."
½ January 7, 2013
Too convoluted and silly to recommend.
August 19, 2012
An intelligent, entertaining thriller which will keep you guessing till the last frame.
½ January 30, 2012
Old murder mystery film. Just not my thing.
June 15, 2006
THE LAST OF SHEILA (1973)
February 19, 2010
Ponderous, dull, and slow-moving: three things any murder mystery worth its salt is not. MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS sizzled to great benefit from its taking place on a moving train, surely conducive to suspense, and the underrated FRENZY saw Hitchcock at his most diabolical. THE LAST OF SHEILA, a top-notch mystery movie and a Rubik's cube of a film, deserves a spot in those rankings.

Murder mystery on ice, served with a dash of cold blood and a dazzling wit: that, without spoiling anything, is THE LAST OF SHEILA's allure. And thanks are principally in order, unlikely as it might sound, to a little Broadway and Hollywood schizophrenia. Screen legend Anthony Perkins (PSYCHO) and composer Stephen Sondheim (SWEENEY TODD), a true odd couple writing team, take up the pen and ink for a screenplay that's chock-fill of complexity, smarts, and witticisms. It's a sturdy, leak-proof ship for a talented ensemble cast to sail on.

And while the screenplay, creative as it is, is far from the first to balance humor and intrigue, it's a fine peg to hang your hat on in that department. Few mystery/suspense films, as masters like Hitchcock realized early on, can work well without light moments, chances for audiences to take a collective breather before being put on tenterhooks by the plot's twists and turns. Not only do Perkins and Sondheim realize this, they walk the tightrope between the genres the best way-- in style. The duo, who would never team up in writing a film again, used their mystery fanboy interests to good use, netting an Edgar award in the process.

As flesh and blood to the screenplay's pulp and paper, the veteran cast of THE LAST OF SHEILA does a more valuable service than Hitchcock, with his 'cattle,' would perhaps admit to. Acting in the film is superb, a veritable treat. The cast is, alphabetically: Richard Benjamin, Dyan Cannon, James Coburn, Joan Hackett, James Mason, Ian McShane, and Racquel Welch, a convincing ensemble of 70's Hollywood A-listers.

Benjamin, who in a touch of deja vu also appears in WESTWORLD, masterfully plays Tom, a dapper everyman who's quick mind is well-suited for the evening games. Dyan Cannon is Christine, a rich playgirl with an infectious laugh, in a role that seems not too far from reality. James Coburn, in the best performance I've seen him in, is the low-level sadist Clinton, a wealthy producer whose taste for "games" gets us in trouble in the first place. Joan Hackett plays Tom's wife, Lee, an earnest, sweet natured woman who looks patently out of place among the other two bombshells. James Mason, whose affected pedophilia earned him fame in films like LOLITA, here is in classic shape as Philip. Ian McShane plays Ian, a British expatriot and Hollywood manager with anger issues, whose girlfriend is Racquel Welch, who puts her limited acting chops to best possible use as Alice.

Clinton is a wealthy producer who enjoys games, or rather, humiliation-- and it's clear he wants a little of both when he invites his wealthy socialite frenemies for a week on his sleek yacht. Each player is assigned a card with a dirty character attribute, like "you are a shoplifter" or "you are an alchoholic," and it's evident early on that the cards have a real world bearing of their own, and that the "Sheila Green Memorial Gossip Game" has a sinister edge. The alleged purpose of the week is to shoot a movie about Clinton's late wife, Sheila, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver he has reason to believe may be among his "friends." As the suspense piles up, so do the bodies.

Herbert Ross (of STEEL MAGNOLIAS and PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM fame) deserves to be remembered for this one, a riveting 70's whodunit that is by far the best of its era. His direction boasts loads of flourishes like interesting camera angles, spooky cutscenes in which anything might happen, and a few particularly well crafted shots. His filmography reveals a solid cadre of films, mostly commendable 70's flicks that have both gone and been forgotten. He was nominated for a few films in his heyday, but never quite got the recognition he deserves. His cinematographer, Gerry Turpin (whose camerawork was also used in 1960's PEEPING TOM) gives us that great dark Technicolor feel, best seen in the castle scene. Ross can thank his editor, too, for adding short cuts and timely pacing into the mix.

Billy Goldenberg's atmospheric score sets the tone from the very beginning, to haunting effect. In sound it resembles many of the horror movies made in the 70's, a shiver-inducing score whose fright-might enhances many a scene's power. It's minimally used throughout the film, used sparingly but wisely to accent certain parts. Ross was smart enough to know when he didn't need it, though, and the film is quiet to good effect in much of the latter part of the film. When Bette Midler's "Friends" plays during the closing credits, it's both a shock and worth a hearty laugh, after all the back-stabbing that has gone on.

Filmed in the south of France, THE LAST OF SHEILA has a great romantic feel that helps to transcend the one set, mystery theatre feel of so many films in its genre. As a footnote, the beautiful location adds a disparity between the lush paradise outside and the in-fighting going on within the yacht.

THE LAST OF SHEILA is not only the last hurrah of the archetypal 70's mystery thrillers, which would be parodied for their predictability in films like MURDER BY DEATH, it's arguably the genre's shining moment. In a film that feels like a dash of PSYCHO combined with a touch of comedy, THE LAST OF SHEILA makes a film entirely one of a kind: a riddle of a film that, so rare to Hollywood nowadays, is not scared to make the viewer think. Next time you have a craving for some murder and mayhem, try this little known classic.
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
January 25, 2006
[font=Century Gothic]In "The Last of Sheila", Clinton(James Coburn) is a wealthy film producer. One year after his beloved, Sheila(Yvonne Romaine), a gossip columnist, was killed by a hit and run driver, he has invited six friends - an actress(Raquel Welch), her tempestuous husband(Ian McShane), an agent(Dyan Cannon), a struggling writer(Richard Benjamin), his rich wife(Joan Hackett) and a director(James Mason) to spend a week on his yacht cruising in the Mediterranean under the auspices of possibly filming a biopic about Sheila but also to play a wicked game. The object of the game is to discover a person's secret and everyone aboard has one...[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"The Last of Sheila" is a lightweight mystery written by Anthony Perkins and Steven Sondheim. The film spends too much time in the setup and the ending is questionable but a good cast makes the most of the material.[/font]
½ January 13, 2006
Interesting mystery, well acted with a great cast. The writing is good, the story is fascinationg. A bit overlong, but plenty of suspense along the way.
Page 1 of 5