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ok picture but a little pointless
John Frankenheimer's somber account of daredevil skydivers features a fine cast.
There's not a huge amount of action in the first part of this film, and it gets bogged down somewhat with the various relationships that develop in the film and the angst this brings from showmen being on the road. The skydiving scenes are decent, but only come into their fore in the latter part of the movie.
John Frankenheimer's film is supposed to be about skydiving, which it is. But, there's LOTS of melodrama to go along with it. If I remember, Frankenheimer's "Grand Prix" was like that too. That was about racing, but there was lots of soap opera.
The prelude, which lasts a while, does lead to the skydiving sequences. Then, there's a major tonal shift. It is then that the film actually works, and works well. I really liked how the film came to its almost poetic conclusion. The thoughts behind the final part of the film should have been used in the introductory hour or so.
John Frankenheimer was very disappointed that this film saw almost no distribution in the U.S. Frankenheimer said it was his favorite film of those he directed. The film was rated "M," which was the two-year forerunner to the MPAA's "GP," and subsequent "PG." Perhaps it was the mature content in those early days of the MPAA's modern rating system that threw audiences and exhibitors off.
It is worth one viewing for those who followed Frankenheimer's career, or those who are interested in skydiving.
A melancholic slice of life served through the guise of nomadic skydiving daredevils whose stop inside Smalltown, U.S.A proves eventful for them - and others. Lancaster (as the aging parachutist) Hackman (as the wily businessman/carnival barker) and Kerr (as the bored housewife) are excellent. Aerial cinematography coupled with the deft direction by Frakenheimer is genuinely thrilling.
the last of 5 pairings with Burt & John
A man who jumps out of airplanes meets a woman who's afraid to jump out of a loveless marriage. "You have to want to," he says. She does, but does she want to enough? Strong thematic relationship with Seconds, another Frankenheimer film dealing with questions of age and meaning, whether to live before you die, or die to desire and simply grow old. Kinship between two films is supported by fine cinematography and performances, and some sharp dialogue, notably the nightime stroll with Kerr and Lancaster. I've read this is a minor Frankenheimer, and I'd say it's a minor story, a small melodrama set in Kansas, but it deals with issues that strike a chord, and there's something about seeing these people make this film. It obviously has little commercial appeal, and the punch it packs is blunted by a sombre seriousness (no Sirkian darkwit here), but is a meaningful story, and a meaningful film for the time. I liked it more than I expected and I'm glad I found it cheap in a second-hand store. Comes with a Frankenheimer commentary which I know I'll enjoy.
With the screenplay and the cast, that bring big names of Hollywood, The Gypsy Moths, show be a sentimental and too much dramatic, but unforgettable film.
Visually they definitely should have done more with the sky-diving scenes. These had to bring action in the movie but were sometimes a bit boring. The scenes that Lancaster and Kerr shared left me unfullfilled. They were emotionally charged but the dialogue was very poor. Gene Hackman on the other hand was quite funny and did a very good job overall.
More interesting for the backstory and the historical perspective on skydiving than for the wafer-thin plot and soap opera antics. Terrific stunts were state-of-the-art for 1969.