99 and 44/100% Dead (John Frankenheimer, 1974)

Discussions of specific films and franchises.
Post Reply
Message
Author
beamish13
Joined: Sun Oct 14, 2007 5:31 am

99 and 44/100% Dead (John Frankenheimer, 1974)

#1 Post by beamish13 » Wed Mar 13, 2013 2:24 am

Has anyone else here seen this extremely quirky and off-kilter action/comedy pastiche from John Frankenheimer and screenwriter Robert Dillon (who, more than 25 years later, masterfully adapted Scott Spencer's novel WAKING THE DEAD for Keith Gordon)?

The easiest way to describe this movie is as a Seijun Suzuki meets Samuel Z. Arkoff production by way of Mario Bava's DANGER: DIABOLIK. From an opening shootout with dozens of identically-clad hitmen trying to off their sole target at a pier, the film's m.o. is clear: to create an environment so nihilistic and superficial that we're invited to mock it. For the most part, it's a successful gambit, as Richard Harris' protagonist segues to new situations and ludicrous obstacles with a glide and ease that mimics the transition to a new panel in a comic book. Frankenheimer wasn't very fond of this film in retrospect, but it definitely deserves a reappraisal.

User avatar
Adam Grikepelis
Joined: Thu Apr 16, 2009 5:04 am

Re: 99 and 44/100% Dead (John Frankenheimer, 1974)

#2 Post by Adam Grikepelis » Wed Mar 13, 2013 2:33 am

Damn, just when I though I'd talked myself out of buying the DVD. I think you sold me, beamish.

User avatar
Cold Bishop
Joined: Tue May 30, 2006 9:45 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: 99 and 44/100% Dead (John Frankenheimer, 1974)

#3 Post by Cold Bishop » Wed Mar 13, 2013 3:38 am

One famous footnote: the opening underwater scene was a less-elaborate riff on the original planned opening for Once Upon a Time in America. Robert Dillon was the screenwriter for several early drafts of the film, and then decided to nick the opening without telling Leone.

I think it's probably the best thing Frankeheimer did that decade, in one of the most amazing fall from graces of any directors I can think of (French Connection II is pretty good, but a bit of a cheat).

The Nickel Ride is a pretty great, if modest and low-key, neo-noir, so you really can spring for the Shout release with relatively little pain.

User avatar
wigwam
Joined: Mon May 07, 2012 11:30 am

Re: 99 and 44/100% Dead (John Frankenheimer, 1974)

#4 Post by wigwam » Wed Mar 13, 2013 11:29 am

The zaniness and contrived "cool" of it got really irritating to me very early on in the movie and by the end I was completely at a distance from what I was seeing. Lost me immediately.

The Nickel Ride is one of the best (and most overlooked) movies ever.

User avatar
Reverend Drewcifer
Joined: Sat Mar 09, 2013 5:16 pm
Location: Cincinnati

Re: 99 and 44/100% Dead (John Frankenheimer, 1974)

#5 Post by Reverend Drewcifer » Wed Mar 13, 2013 11:55 am

Fox Movie Channel plays this every so often. I am a major Frankenheimer fan, but this is just a clumsy effort.

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: 99 and 44/100% Dead (John Frankenheimer, 1974)

#6 Post by knives » Wed Mar 13, 2013 2:14 pm

Cold Bishop wrote:One famous footnote: the opening underwater scene was a less-elaborate riff on the original planned opening for Once Upon a Time in America. Robert Dillon was the screenwriter for several early drafts of the film, and then decided to nick the opening without telling Leone.

I think it's probably the best thing Frankeheimer did that decade, in one of the most amazing fall from graces of any directors I can think of (French Connection II is pretty good, but a bit of a cheat).

The Nickel Ride is a pretty great, if modest and low-key, neo-noir, so you really can spring for the Shout release with relatively little pain.
I feel his '70s were amazing, yes he did have a dip in quality due to his alcoholism, but his last few films before death are great even if he never did anything as good as this or Seconds subsequent to The Prophecy. Yes most of his '70s output could never really succeed at what it wanted to do, but the sheer ambition of say Story of a Love Story more than makes up for the sloppiness in structure. Frankenheimer has always been an internalized director with his protagonists thinking their way into ulcers and until the mess of The Prophecy I can't think of any of his '70s features that didn't succeed masterfully on that level at least.

I will second The Nickel Ride is pretty good though. Certainly amongst the best work of its writer and director though that means little.

Post Reply