27 May 2008 | Bunuel1976
LADY IN CEMENT (Gordon Douglas, 1968) **1/2
To begin with, though it didn't do well at the box-office and is clearly inferior to its predecessor, this isn't that bad a sequel to TONY ROME (1967). The mystery this time around is more clear-cut because it starts off with a body (the titular figure); eventually, the hero (once again played by Frank Sinatra) himself is incriminated – leading to him falling out with his cop friend Richard Conte!
The female roles aren't as effective, however: Lainie Kazan makes a good impression as a go-go dancer but, despite her high billing, is restricted to just one sequence!; as for leading lady Raquel Welch, she's okay but no match for Jill St. John from the original (the script relies a bit too much on Welch's glamorous presence alone to carry the role) – and there isn't even that much chemistry between her and Sinatra! With this in mind, the star strikes up an unlikely alliance throughout with beefy and imposing Dan Blocker (from the Western TV series "Bonanza") – which gives a humorous vein to the generally hard-boiled proceedings and immediately reminds one of the Philip Marlowe/Moose Malloy partnership in MURDER, MY SWEET aka FAREWELL, MY LOVELY (1944).
Again, most of the suspects in the case are unsavory characters – from former mobsters (now ostensibly leading a respectable life) to homosexuals (remnants perhaps from Sinatra's previous collaboration with director Douglas, THE DETECTIVE ). Incidentally, while the mystery in the original led to an unexpected revelation, the clues here point to either Welch or Blocker but – predictably – the identity of the real culprit is much more obvious; for what it's worth, the script was co-written by Marvin H. Albert, who created the Tony Rome character in the first place on the written page!
Miami – in all its aspects – still acts as an alluring yet dangerous backdrop to the sex and violence going on; however, Rome even gets to fight the inhabitants of the ocean as a number of sharks are attracted to the 'lady in cement' in the opening sequence! Similarly, the bouncy score supplied by Hugo Montenegro emerges to be a definite plus. One final thing: apparently, Joe E. Lewis – the singer-turned-comedian played by none other than Sinatra in THE JOKER IS WILD (1957) – puts in an appearance here as himself!