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  • Where Harper was jazzy, amped up for its day and often dark humored in its intrigue and violence, this sequel has more of a laid-back and ultimately melancholy tone. The humor is still there, but the dysfunctional family theme that produced edgy laughs in the earlier film cuts deeper here.

    Newman looks great and is as effortlessly effective as ever as he prowls Cajun Country, at the behest of onetime flame Joanne Woodward, in search of a blackmail source that quickly turns into much more. Filmed all over South Louisiana, including a mansion shot here in Baton Rouge, it gets the local flavor down pretty well.

    Dismissed as draggy even in its day, and certainly so in the age raised on the newspaper ad quote "A Thrill Ride!!!", it's a thoughtful, well acted addition to the private eye genre, with Melanie Griffith coming out the gate full force as a troublesome nymphet (an interesting predatory flip-side to the victimized variation seen later the same year in the superb Night Moves.)

    Hopefully a widescreen DVD will one day soon afford its excellent Panavision photography to be seen for the first time in 25 years.
  • Ten years after Newman's success in "Harper" as the title private investigator, he reappeared in this follow-up. While the caliber of the cast can't hold a candle to the stellar first film, the acting and mystery elements are excellent. Woodward plays a wealthy Louisiana woman who once had a brief fling with Newman. She hires him to find out who's blackmailing her about her extramarital dalliances. Once he lands in the bayou, he is immersed in several confusing and complicated situations involving sex, real estate war and murder. Newman is utterly appealing as the hard knock investigator, Woodward is cool and refined, Franciosa puts his method acting to good use and Hamilton puts an enjoyably quirky spin on a villainous role. Griffith effectively plays Woodward's sexually ripe daughter and Browne adds great authority in her brief appearance as Woodward's domineering mother-in-law. The plot is extremely convoluted and risks losing all sense at times, but it all comes about in the end. The actors succeed in making the audience want to see more of what they are all about. The title refers to a climactic scene in which Newman and an exasperatingly upset cohort are trapped in an enclosed hydrotherapy room which is filled to the brim with water. This affords a rare opportunity to see the relatively modest Newman trotting around in damp boxer shorts. The film utilizes (perhaps overutilizes?) the song "Killing Me Softly" throughout. The film is like a reunion of sorts for Newman. Aside form his frequent collaborations with his wife Woodward, she and Franciosa had starred with him in "The Long Hot Summer", Hamilton had appeared in "The Hustler" and Jaeckel co-starred with him in "Sometimes a Great Notion". Director Rosenberg has also directed Newman in "WUSA", "Cool Hand Luke" and "Pocket Money". Years later, Griffith would appear with Newman in "Nobody's Fool".
  • Penfold-1311 September 1999
    A mature, intelligent thriller, in which Newman recreates Lew Harper. It takes place around New Orleans and involves public corruption and an intricate web of deceit.

    The style is fairly laid-back, though it doesn't actually lag - even though it sometimes seems it's about to. The characters are all sharply delineated and complex, and there is a lot of very good acting going on.

    Thoroughly watchable, with some tension and suspense, but only sporadic action.
  • Newman reprises his role as Lew Harper for the second and final time in the long-awaited sequel to 1966's HARPER, another twisting mystery; this time set in Louisiana. Unfortunately, THE DROWNING POOL was tepidly received by both critics and audiences, most of whom seemed to think the film paled in comparison to the original. I am one viewer who disagrees strongly with the general consensus in this case. Not only is THE DROWNING POOL a first-rate mystery thriller, but it is also one of the most sorely underrated films in Newman's filmography.

    The film has a completely different look and feel than the previous film, which may have been the reason that so many critics and audiences unfairly rejected it. Gone is the sixties-era go-go mania, which has been replaced with the moody elements of modern film noir which perfectly suits the intricate story of murder and blackmail. The film may not have the starpower of the previous film, but it nonetheless offers solid work from Joanne Woodward, Anthony Franciosa, and a particularly affecting turn from Linda Haynes. Best of all is the then-18 year old Melanie Griffith, who owns her role as the scheming bit of jail bait, unsubtly lusting after Newman's Harper.

    Yet nothing can even come close to upstaging Newman, who is as commanding here as anywhere else in his career. In many ways this is a transitional effort for Newman, paving the way from early brutish roles (1958's THE LONG HOT SUMMER, 1963's HUD) to his latter day, more cerebral heroes (1982's THE VERDICT, 1994' NOBODY'S FOOL). Also, even at age 50, the man has rarely been sexier. To top things off, we also have one of the greatest, most original escape scenes in movie history - although I'm not giving it away; you'll have to check out this underrated thriller and see for yourself.
  • The Drowning Pool is Paul Newman's second and last time as private detective Lew Harper. The plot takes him to the Louisiana bayou country where an old flame Joanne Woodward has hired him to trace and find out who's been sending her nasty notes about her sex life.

    The investigation quickly centers around recently fired chauffeur Andy Robinson, but before long Newman gets himself immersed in the local politics of the area with a slick oil millionaire (Murray Hamilton), Woodward's nymphomaniac daughter (Melanie Griffith), an obsessed police lieutenant (Anthony Franciosa) and various and sundry other bayou characters. Quite a few of the characters are killed off before the climax.

    The Drowning Pool goes somewhat astray in its development, but the ends are nicely tied together at the climax.

    The hit song made popular by Helen Reddy in the seventies, Killing Me Softly With His Song, comes from The Drowning Pool. It was a mega hit back in the day and to my amazement I discovered it wasn't even nominated for an Oscar.

    Of course my favorite here is Anthony Franciosa. He had an incredible ear for dialect and he really got the Cajun speech patterns down to perfection.

    But the real reason I love The Drowning Pool is the scene where Paul Newman and Gail Strickland are locked in a hydrotherapy room by Murray Hamilton. Strickland is Hamilton's wife. Why they are both there I won't say, but their escape from the room is one of the most spectacular ever put on film.

    You should see The Drowning Pool for that alone.
  • Ross MacDonald's novels generally translate well to movie. This one certainly does, although I've never seen a Ross MacDonald movie that successfully captures the atmosphere that MacDonald creates in his novels. Paul Newman is the detective Lew Archer (I seem to remember that his name was changed to Harper for the movie to keep a string of "H" movies going: Hud, Hombre, and Harper). The movie moves along with a complex plot that is not difficult to track and understand. Melanie Griffith is perfection in the role of the 14-year old seductress. >
  • A California PI is called to New Orleans and the locals start turning up dead. This is a relaxed thriller full of Southern kooks and cranks. Great cast, well-known director, and of course the worldly Ross MacDonald (aka Ken Millar), the master of the why-dunit. The plot unzips pretty quickly with Paul Newman the detective running into several women and the men they have to put up with. It's all about how many of these women he'll be able to protect. It's fun to watch Newman keep his cool in one crazy fix after another. The film holds up pretty well because the story is character-driven and every other scene is shot in a colorful location. Good alternative to watching a re-run of your favorite crime drama.
  • Paul Newman returns to his private detective role Lew Harper, following 1966's "Harper", in another murder-yarn adapted from a Ross Macdonald novel (wherein the lead character was named Archer). Transplanted from Southern California to the bayous of Louisiana, Harper is up to his aw-shucks smile in trouble while investigating a blackmail plot which involves his former lady-friend (Joanne Woodward), a Southern belle from a prominent New Orleans family living under the thumb of an oppressive matriarch. An intimidating letter soon turns to murder, and the suspects include: the woman's nubile daughter (Melanie Griffith), a wealthy fat-cat (Murray Hamilton), and even the police chief (Tony Franciosa, sporting an oddball walrus mustache). Strictly TV-detective stuff, polished by the classy cast and Gordon Willis' terrific cinematography. It looks good and goes down smoothly, but doesn't leave a trace of itself behind. ** from ****
  • Paul Newman really put on a performance in "The Drowning Pool". I had no idea this movie was a sequel to another, but I don't really care at this point. There in the movie was a lesser known star Melanie Griffith who was starting out very well in the movie. Helping out your ex is always helpful, especially when it comes to being blackmail by someone very unscrupulous.

    I like the part when the detective and his ex were trapped and was about to be drowned by the perpetrators, they had to uses their own clothes to make a clog that would be hazardous, to make their escape. Hence, that's why it's called "The Drowning Pool". The intensity of the movie was not lost, and plot was good. If I only knew what the first movie was that this is a sequel to, otherwise, I just can say this, it's a great movie and it's great for the enthusiasts of Southern detective stories buffs. I liked it all the way. Rating 4 out of 5 stars
  • In 1966 Ross MacDonald's private investigator Lew Harper (Paul Newman) was hired by a wealthy matron to find a missing husband. It is nearly ten years later and we find the Los Angelas detective traveling to Cajun country in the deep south. Upon arriving he is immediately welcomed by Lt. Franks of the local police (Richard Jaeckel, superb performance) by arresting him for child molestation, lewd exposure, sex with Schuyler Devereaux, (Melanie Griffith) an underage girl, carrying a concealed weapon and resisting arrest. His influential employer, Iris Devereaux (Joanne Woodward) is an old flame from California, whom he had a love interest with six years ago. Now she wants him to discover who sent her a threatening Blackmailing letter. Her protector is the Chief of Police (Anthony Franciosa) who reminds Harper that he will be watching him for the slightest provocation against the family. There is no shortage of villains in this mystery story. Among them is Mr. Kilbourne (Murray Hamilton) a powerful millionaire intent on acquiring the oil rich land the Devereaux's own but won't sell. Pat Reavis (Andrew Robinson) the deject employee who seeks revenge for his dismissal and 'Candy' (Paul Koslo) who's as vicious as the dogs he trains for the arena. Harper plays it close to the vest as he quickly discovers his investigation begins to uncover more family secrets than a closet can hold. All of his efforts produce dead bodies, murder, mayhem, a lost account book and finally a drowning pool which threatens his very life. All in all, a superb movie for cast and characters and one which easily marks this film as a Classic. ****
  • Like a lot of the films that I enjoy, The Drowning Pool can be watched on two levels. It's a Bogart'ish, Nior'ish mystery thriller with only a few lines that come off as maybe trying to be too clever. But that is well balanced out by some class acting and story development along with some unusual sleuthing techniques that we see from the Newman character. The characters and morals, the nastiness and the kindness have an authentic stamp of reality about them that compares well with the sentimental sugariness and lack of reality of so many "violent" modern action/thriller films. That in itself is a reason for watching the film; just for the stark contrast with so many creative works today that claim to show "realism".

    On another level there is much social commentary going on here. The stifling psychological atmosphere lives up well to the title of this piece as we watch people tear themselves and their relationships apart; driven on, of course, by those who have a vested interest in seeing them fail.

    There is a key scene towards the end of the film that pulls together all the strings at work on this second level.

    Well worth it if you're prepared to pay attention.
  • pzivojinovic21 December 2016
    This is follow up to "Harper" and Paul Newman reprises his role as a private detective loosely based on Ross MacDonald's Lew Archer. The plot is based around Harper being a few years older but basically the same style PI you came to like in Harper. He is smart and has a drive to finish a case; even if he ends up in trouble. You get a mix of Joanne Woodward, Melanie Griffith (as a teen), Tony Franciosa (doing a very good job acting) and a stellar supporting cast. There are a lot of twists and turns, a lot of dialog, one shootout - it's Newman as Harper! Set in pre-Katrina New Orleans, "The Drowning Pool" is a rich stew of intrigue, great cast performances and classic MacDonald twists and turns within a dangerously dysfunctional family. Paul Newman completely inhabits Lew Harper's character, the settings are alternately grand and deliciously seedy, and the cinematography is excellent. A very young Melany Griffith place the infant terrible' in this film, not bad for a kid breaking into the movie game. But the chief action focuses on Newman and he does not disappoint. There's also some interesting plot points involving oil off the coast, and the resulting corruption of the police as money was shovelled around to secure drilling rights.

    Overall rating: 8 out of 10.
  • rmax30482322 December 2012
    Warning: Spoilers
    Paul Newman is the same private detective he played in "Harper" but about the only connection between the two films is his mostly offhand attitude towards events. "The Drowning Pool" is set in New Orleans and doesn't have a dozen recognizable character actors in supporting roles. It's more focused, less ambiguous, and doesn't end with a great big question mark. Newman digs up all the answers and leaves the resolution in the hands of the locals. Of course he gets slugged a few times and almost drowned but he does some slugging of his own.

    It's a complex mystery story and rather routine. The director was Stuart Rosenberg, who gave us a genuine handful in "Cool Hand Luke" but here is saddled with a pedestrian script. A lot of sentiment is lavished on the apparent suicide of Joanne Woodward, a local belle whom we've hardly gotten to know. The ultimate killer is a flighty young girl who hardly seems capable of such intrigue.

    Yet the film has its moments. There is, for instance, Paul Newman's first abduction by the local oil baron, Murray Hamilton. In a scene we're all familiar with, three or four over-sized goons approach Newman and order him into their car. Newman backs away with a determined expression and says, "Look, I think it's only fair to warn you fellas that my hands are registered in California as lethal weapons." One of the fellas opens his jacket to reveal an automatic tucked into his belt. Newman laughs it off with a joke about only being a brown belt. But the switch from defiance to compliance is done with a panache that only Newman could deliver. Burt Reynolds would have tried but not succeeded. Neither Sylvester Stallone nor Clint Eastwood would have bothered trying.

    Then, later, there is a short exchange between Newman and Murray Hamilton, who is sitting on a couch complaining that his bad stomach won't let him eat the shrimp étouffé that he himself has prepared. Hamilton, who was a great snooker player against Newman in "The Hustler," asks with a vast phony smile just what it is that Newman wants. "I want a big chunk of those oil fields," Newman replies. A moment passes while Hamilton continues to smile off into empty space, before replying, "You know, in addition to this bad stomach of mine, I think Nature has left me a little hard of hearing." I know it's not funny in print but it is on screen.

    Final moment: Newman and the nicely assembled Gail Strickland are in their underwear gasping for the bit of air remaining in a space at the top of a hydrotherapy room in an abandoned mental hospital. (Don't ask.) Gail Strickland has always reminded me of Gayle Hunnicut, another Southern beauty, so much so that I've come to believe they're one and the same person. No? Then let me ask: Has anyone ever seen them in the same room at the same time? I thought not. Q.E.D.
  • Revisiting the private-detective character he created for "Harper" nine years before gives this Paul Newman vehicle some interest, especially as the man was then at the apex of his stardom. It makes for a sweet showcase for his ineffable charisma, yet lacks in other key departments.

    This time Lew Harper is in Louisiana's Bayou Country to help an old flame through a potentially messy blackmail case. Before you can say "You're out of your depth" (which someone does to Lew, sure enough), Harper discovers a hornet's nest of intrigue involving big oil money, local corruption, and murder.

    Newman does look terrific, even more for the "little gray over the ears" that gets pointed out by the old flame, Iris Devereaux (Joanne Woodward). Woodward was of course Newman's real-life wife and frequent acting partner in romantic dramas, though you don't get as much of them together as you - or Harper - might like. She's more the fly in the ointment who somewhat unwillingly presses Harper to dig into the ugly guts of the case, as well as a bit unreliable as she lapses into Southern-matron airs and too much drink.

    "The Drowning Pool" has less attitude and more likability than "Harper" did: One wishes that they worked out the story before the casting. It's a great cast, which in addition to Newman and Woodward include Murray Hamilton as the creepy oil man Jay Hue Kilbourne, Anthony Franciosa as the somewhat honorable lawman Broussard, Richard Jaeckel as Broussard's less honorable deputy Franks, and Melanie Griffith as Iris's rebellious, jailbait daughter Schuyler, all but busting out of her crochet bikini. None are great, but all like Lew have their moments.

    "Don't you think I'm kind of...sexy," Schuyler asks Harper, who's interested but (rightly) wary.

    Like "Harper," "The Drowning Pool's" chief flaw is a plot with too many spinning plates and not much of a through-line. We get a lot of lumbering exposition, with everyone telling Harper what's what up front through a swampy first half. Harper's still a cut-up, though the jokes furnished by the writers and director Stuart Rosenberg comes off as a bit labored. "Harper" opened with a famous scene of Newman digging a used coffee filter out of the trash for some needed java; this time we open with him struggling with a rental car's safety belt. Couldn't he just get another rental? Nah, that would be too easy, and nothing comes easy for Harper.

    Except for the story, which sort of happens with him in the role of wry bystander. "It's quite a zoo you got here," he tells Schuyler, indicating the indoor aviary her grandmother keeps but meaning the world around it as well.

    The movie's big finale involves Newman and an unhappily married woman played by Gail Strickland trying to escape imprisonment in a shuttered sanitarium by filling a room full of water and making for the skylight. It's an involving sequence, for a few minutes, but moves as slowly as the rest of the film before ending somewhat implausibly, if not stupidly like "Harper" did.

    I liked watching "The Drowning Pool" in parts. Like jc-osms said in his September 2010 review, there's a kind of relaxed "Rockford Files" vibe to the whole thing, with Newman taking cues from his pal Jimbo Garner. If he was doing anything that important in this film, it might make for a better overall experience. Instead, the best you get here is Michael Small's rich Preservation Hall score and some fine-looking location scenics care of John C. Howard. Woodward assays a solid turn in her smaller-than-expected supporting role.

    It's hard to believe what others say here, that this was one of Newman's own least liked films. Given that this decade also saw him in "Judge Roy Bean," "Macintosh Man," "Quartet," and "When Time Ran Out...," I'd say what you get here is approaching par for the man, who still shows some game. Go into it looking for Newman's charm, you won't be too disappointed. But he could do a lot better, and so can you.
  • Lew Harper, a private eye, is hired by Iris Devereaux, the wife of an old-money Louisiana aristocrat, who has been receiving poison-pen letters accusing her of adultery. It soon becomes clear, however, that this is much more than a simple case of blackmail. The plot quickly becomes very complex, involving the Devereaux' former chauffeur, their nymphomaniac teenage daughter, a prostitute and a tycoon plotting to take over the Devereaux family land for the oil deposits beneath it.

    Despite its very different visual style, "The Drowning Pool" has a lot in common with the films noirs of the forties and fifties. Unlike Polanski's "Chinatown", another film from the mid-seventies but one with a thirties setting, it is less a pastiche of or deliberate homage to film noir than an early example of neo-noir, an attempt to transfer the genre to a modern setting. The complex plot with its overtones of official and corporate corruption in high places could in some ways be the plot of a Humphrey Bogart film, albeit one set in the seventies rather than the forties and transferred to New Orleans from Bogart's normal stamping-ground of Los Angeles. The element of sexual blackmail and the involvement of a chauffeur are reminiscent of "The Big Sleep"; Iris's daughter, the oddly-named Schuyler, has some similarities to Carmen Sternwood, another rich-white-trash nymphomaniac, from that film.

    Newman makes Harper a cool, laid-back seventies private eye, quite different to the more edgy, abrasive private eyes of the forties, but this is not really one of his best performances, lacking the style he brought to "Cool Hand Luke" or to earlier thrillers such as "The Prize". Few of the other characters really stand out, with the surprising exception of Melanie Griffith as Schuyler. I say "surprising" because she has never been my favourite actress, and I never thought I would ever find myself saying "the best performance in this movie came from Melanie Griffith". Her Schuyler, however, had just the right mixture of wilfulness and seductiveness; like Newman's character, most of the male members of the audience probably were unsure if they wanted to embrace her or slap her. Griffith was eighteen at the time the film was made, and her distinctive, breathy, little-girl voice suited her character well. (Unfortunately, she has gone on using a similar voice too often in more recent films, and what sounds just right in a teenager can sound irritating in an older woman).

    Director Stuart Rosenberg and Paul Newman had previously worked together on that great film "Cool Hand Luke", one of Newman's best. Unfortunately, "The Drowning Pool" is not in the same class. It is a fairly typical example of seventies private-eye thrillers. (Michael Winner's remake of "The Big Sleep" is another example). Such films, although they might have tried to emulate the classic noirs, generally lacked their all-important atmosphere and style. 5/10
  • bob99812 July 2004
    It's a lot better than Harper. Newman has fewer tics and the story moves along smoother. Harper had no dynamism because Jack Smight is a terrible action director; the only excitement came from the exchanges between Newman and Arthur Hill in the car. Stuart Rosenberg can be relied on to throw enough kinkiness and ambiguity at us to keep our interest.

    Melanie Griffith was used better by Arthur Penn in Night Moves; it's too bad the kitten with a whip persona had to end when she grew up. Andy Robinson was so good as the villain in so many pictures--that sensual face worked well for him, as it does here. You'd expect to see him at Andy Warhol's Factory. Gail Strickland and Murray Hamilton as the rich couple were enjoyable to watch. If Joanne Woodward's part had been better written, she could have given us more than just the nervous belle. An average picture, affording some pleasure for Paul Newman completists.
  • AaronCapenBanner9 November 2013
    Stuart Rosenberg directed this underrated sequel to "Harper", set nine years later that sees Paul Newman return as private detective Lew Harper, this time called by an old girlfriend named Iris(Joanne Woodward) to come to her Louisiana home to investigate a blackmailing scheme involving her daughter(played by Melanie Griffith) who has something of a reputation with the local men that someone wants to exploit for their benefit. Harper discovers that the case is more complicated than that, as it involves shady dealings of a wealthy oil tycoon(played by Murray Hamilton) and his wife(played by Gail Strickland) who wants more land for exploration. Can Harper get to the bottom of this case before being driven off by the local sheriff(played by Anthony Franciosa)? Though not as stylish as "Harper", this still features good acting and an interesting story, with Newman as good as ever. There was no third film in this series, which is a shame.
  • Ok, you got your 1975 mystery starring the never aging Paul Newman. Except for some gray hair and some wrinkles, the man hasn't aged a month since he starred in Cool Hand Luke. Back in 1975, just about every Paul Newman fan went to the cinema to see this flick. The other half of movie goers paid to see this for another reason. That reason being a young and very hot Melanie Griffith. Ever since Knight Moves, It's safe to say that Mrs. Griffith brought a huge fan base of teenage boys and single men to the movies to see her innocence on the big screen. She could be talking baby talk to Paul Newman when she's on screen. It doesn't matter, each time she up there, the audience is locked onto her image and can't let go until the scene ends.
  • I assume that the purpose of this film was to explore the on-screen persona of a by than fully established Paul Newman.

    This means we have a film built upon crystallized notions of style, associated with the comedy effect that comes with it. Basically, the film would live on the audience buying the Newman effect, and accepting that the fact that Newman was on-screen was enough for the film to be worth it. So, they use a stylish noir story, because that allows them to be around, and with Paul all the time, making everything happen around him all the way. He is (literally) our detective. This was released the year after Chinatown. I don't know how much they took this into consideration, but i supposed suddenly noir was fashion again, and so this would make a film as this one even more appealing.

    I'm not sure whether this worked in its days, but i can say that today this looks (and sounds!) incredibly awkward, and today i wonder how they expected to get away with it. But times change and it is possible that one day this might have sounded relatively appealing to a certain kind of audience. Those would be, i suppose, people of Newman's generation, because his 50 years old might be curious to those days youngsters as much as, say, Harrison Ford was appealing to my generation (i'm 25), but he wouldn't exactly be on top of a world already revered de Niro, Al Pacino, etc.

    What really sounds bad is, oddly enough, Newman's acting, which is over top and, i would say, lazy. He goes with the tide, does not take himself seriously (and that might be good) but than he spirals into self-parody, which sounds exaggerated and unnatural. Woodward is the only good part here, i think.

    And the "pool" of the title is a good stunt, i admit. It has an interesting flavour, obviously enhanced by the almost naked bodies, which was clearly the intention, well, not so far away from the premises of any Bond film anyway. But the rest of the thing just drags.

    Oh, and this was shot in an area that today is on the verge of ceasing to exist in its natural richness. The same oil that mcguffins this story is the responsible today. terrible.

    My opinion: 2/5

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  • A decent detective yarn. I haven't seen "Harper" so cannot make any comparisons. An awful lot of stuff goes on right from the beginning, so you have to pay attention. But, as usual, Paul Newman shows the superstar charisma he is so known for. Joanne Woodward turned in a very good turn as the booze and drug addled client. Gail Strickland also deserves some notice. And of course Melanie Griffith as the teen-age sexpot daughter. She did a lot of those parts in the Seventies, and it was good to see her range expand as she grew up. But no matter what she plays, she can never escape that sex kitten voice she wields so effectively. In general, this was pretty good light entertainment, but will ultimately be fairly forgettable. The photography was beautifully done, even though there's really not that much to see in Louisiana.
  • I like Paul Newman as an actor and tend to like his movies. I recorded "The Drowning Pool" to see a great actor in a good film. I was disappointed.

    I was immediately greeted with a series of poorly directed and poorly edited scenes. Had this been my first exposure to Paul Newman, I might have thought he was a poor actor. That's how bad the direction was.

    The writing couldn't save this either. The plot sounding interesting enough to watch the movie, but much of the writing was stilted and dated.

    More than anything, "The Drowning Pool" proves that good actors make bad movies. Do yourself a favor. Stay away from this dog and watch "The Sting" for the 101st time.
  • "The Drowning Pool" is an unusual film because it's a sequel to a film made nine years earlier. In 1966, Paul Newman starred in an excellent detective film, "Harper". Now here in 1975, Lew Harper is back and working for a family in Louisiana. Like Harper of old, this one is very bright but also far from perfect--and gets the crap kicked out of him periodically.

    As far as the story goes, the plot is a bit complicated. It's also initially not super-interesting. Hold on...resist that urge to turn it off. This is because despite the many different directions the film goes, by the end of the film it all comes together and there are a lot of exciting moments. One of the best is the water scene-- a huge and impressive bit of camera-work that you just have to see to believe. Another is the ending and the many little surprises that occur.

    The bottom line is that this is just a film you need to see to understand and appreciate. Well made and well worth seeing.
  • Lejink8 September 2010
    Somewhat formulaic 'tec thriller from the mid 70's with getting-on-a-bit Paul Newman reprising his Harper PI role to investigate the rich, Southern, dysfunctional family into which an old flame of his has married and recently been subject to blackmail letters.

    Harper's investigations uncover, as you might expect, all manner of intrigues as skeletons start falling out of closets with increasing regularity and naturally individuals keep getting bumped off at periodic intervals. Don't try too hard to keep up with the convoluted plot which probably reads better in a chunky paperback than it plays on the wide screen and enjoy instead Gordon Willis' excellent cinematography and Newman strolling through a part he could obviously play in his sleep.

    At times, it seems no better than those adult detective tales Frank Sinatra took on in the late 60's or even an above average episode of say, "The Rockford Files" or "Harry O" from its TV contemporaries, but it does save itself for a big finish, where Newman and the big bad murderous oil baron's disaffected wife reduce themselves to their underwear to effect an 11th hour escape from the drowning pool of the title.

    Other minor points of note include obviously a young Melanie Griffith playing the slatternly teenage daughter just a bit too gauchely and just count the number of times the classic "Killing Me Softly With His Song" appears on the soundtrack, well and truly done to death, to continue the metaphor (I didn't care for the odd Dixie-themed music which backdropped the rest of the film either).
  • A pretty tired effort, especially the screenplay. I do not recall the Ross MacDonald story, but if it called for a two story room to be filled with water as a plot device, maybe the fault is in the original. . . Tony Francisosa came across to me as ludicrously cast as a New Orleans cop and a few of the other accents came off badly as well. Paul Newman is somewhat charming but far off his best. Melanie Griffith is worth watching for her fetching youthfulness but not much else. The dialogue is forced and unconvincing in most character interactions. Well worth a pass.
  • Paul Newman returns to the role of Lew Harper, private detective, previously seen in the 1966 film "Harper". Here Harper comes to the aid of Iris (Joanne Woodward), a former lover. It seems that Iris is being blackmailed, but as any fan of murder mysteries could expect, this story detail is really just the tip of the iceberg. Also involved are a greedy, conniving oil baron (a delicious Murray Hamilton), Iris's chilly mother in law (Coral Browne), her Lolita like daughter Schuyler (Melanie Griffith), and a none too bright ex-chauffeur (Andy Robinson). The cast also includes Anthony Franciosa and Richard Jaeckel as local detectives, Gail Strickland as the oil barons' wife, Linda Haynes as the ex-chauffeurs' gal pal, Helena Kallianiotes as his sister, and Paul Koslo as a thug. As we can see, this is a mighty fine bunch of actors, and they do a more than adequate job of keeping this thing watchable, even as it maintains a rather deliberate pace. Tracy Keenan Wynn, Lorenzo Semple Jr., and Walter Hill adapt the novel for the screen, and create a reasonably effective, absorbing mystery that succeeds in doling out amusing twists and turns. Newman as always is wonderful, playing the part of Harper with wit and style and doing particularly fine working alongside Franciosa, Hamilton, and his real-life wife Woodward. The story is set in New Orleans, but it would have been nice to have been able to savour a little more of that atmosphere inherent to the city. Michael Small composed the solid music score; the cinematography is by the great Gordon Willis. Reunited with Newman is his "Cool Hand Luke" and "Pocket Money" director Stuart Rosenberg, who creates some good suspense, at least in the most memorable scene of the film; I won't spoil it here but you will know it when you see it. All in all, fans of the genre should have a pretty good time with this. It's slickly made, if not altogether memorable, but you still can't ever really go wrong with watching Paul Newman at work. Seven out of 10.
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