7 October 2005 | rsoonsa
Thin Entertainment, With Glaring Flaws In Logic.
Produced as a pilot for a television series of the same title that did not come about, this work displays a good deal of the shallow characteristics that mark 1970s United States cinema, and features singer and entertainer John Davidson cast as a convicted confidence man, Max Castle, currently employed as a supposedly reformd investigative assistant for his attorney brother Steve, only applying his skills of deceit and deception for the benefit of Steve's beleaguered clients. In the instance depicted here, a client, Constance, works for an administrator, Lyle Rettig, of a large charity fund, who is framing Constance for theft of cash contributions totalling $225,000, but through investigation and, even more, deduction, Max believes that Rettig is the actual suspect for the larceny because of his large losses at gambling, and sets out to expose him by means of a virtuoso confidence scheme that is intended to recover the stolen money and return it to the charity organization. To accomplish this good deed, Max has gathered a contingent of his con artist peers, and the group quickly gains the close attention of their crooked mark at a horse racing track in southern California, the region where most of the action is set, continuing at other venues, including a probable bogus gold mine in Arizona, and there is precious little slack time provided from a plot that is full of holes and fanciful to an extreme. Gullible Lyle falls for each part of the Baroque scheme that is completely tailored for him, and here the screenplay proves to be uninspired by any hint of reality, but one should not expect anything more as this is designed as light, shallow entertainment, purely and simply, and even if events upon occasion seem to go awry for the grifters, there is never a doubt that all will be settled nicely for them in the end. The direction is efficient, deriving as much benefit as is possible from an overly pat plot, and most of the television based cast is at least adequate, with Davidson soon settled neatly in his part, and able turns also come from Tommy Atkins in his sole credited screen role, and Karen Machon as one of Max's co-conspirators. Some subplots and characters seem to disappear before they logically should but this is because of the structure of the screenplay cobbled from an excessive amount of potential series footage. Released in DVD format that is competently mastered with only minor occurrences of faded colour, the film too often loses its narrative flow due to its television lineage that includes numerous freeze frames connoting commercial breaks, and the score is obtrusive and banal.