25 June 2011 | highwaytourist
Uneven film is suspenseful at times but exasperating at others
Seldom has a movie so wildly vacillated between being suspenseful and being irritating. It's about a kidnapping which goes wrong. In it, a chauffeur in Paris with a criminal record (Marlon Brando) reluctantly agrees to take part in the kidnapping for ransom of a young British heiress (Pamela Franklin), which is being masterminded by his good friend, a washed-up pickpocket (Jess Hahn). The girl will be held hostage at the English Channel home of a heroin-addicted stewardess (Rita Moreno), who is both Hahn's sister and Brando's girlfriend. Added to this motley group is a sadistic pimp (Richard Boone), whom Hahn brought in but Brando doesn't trust. The kidnapping goes well enough, but complications set in. A neighbor of the beach house is a French policeman. But even more importantly, the characters become increasingly mistrustful of each other while the captive is menaced by Boone, who is clearly a psychopathic predator. Of course, there is the inevitable climax when things go wrong at the last minute. The film alternates between crime drama and psychological drama, with a lot of chat and only a few action scenes. The talented actors and the nice scenery help make the film watchable until the end, in spite of the pretentious script. But then the entire story is undercut by one of the most stupid endings one could imagine, which could not possibly be more out of place. I had only grudgingly sat through this film because of the cast, only to have the rug yanked out from under me. It left me feeling betrayed.