Maybe this movie got chopped up a bit after its original release, as I've read, but it was not a model of clarity to begin with. By sheer chance, I saw it when it was having its world premiere in the summer of 1970, and I couldn't always follow what was going on.
I was a college student visiting downtown Miami for the first time when I noticed the marquee. I knew nothing about the "Travis McGee" character. The only reason I walked into the theater was because I had never seen a world premiere before.
I couldn't keep a handle on the plot, and I think that weakened the impact of the ending for me. Still, I was favorably impressed overall, because the action was so gritty and realistic. I especially liked the performances of Rod Taylor and William Smith, who were both well known to me. Their big fight scene was as memorable as everybody says.
Suzy Kendall, whom I had never heard of before, was easy on a young man's eyes. But her character was undefined. She seemed like a decorative jewel that men were willing to die for, and I never got a sense of her as a real person.
Since that afternoon so many years ago, I have had the pleasure of reading several Travis McGee novels. I like them very much. If I ever wind up seeing the movie again, maybe I'll understand it better.
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