Archive for the ‘Victor Jory’ Category


24 Apr

Papillon — directed by Franklin J. Shaffner. Drama. Prisoners in a French Jungle Prison plan an escape. 155 minutes Color 1973.


Papillon does not hold up as well when it came out. The interiors are sound stage stuff, and they are overlit. And, if we are to take the native Indians on Honduras seriously, what on earth is Victor Jory doing there in all that makeup? Strong as such, the script is by Dalton Trumbo and reflects his stand for independent action by individuals, which is heartening and impractical at the same time. The picture has the virtue of being shot in sequence, first in Spain, then in Jamaica, but the direction is ragged and the execution of the principal escape is noticeably improbable. Dustin Hoffman resuscitates his stage performance of 1966 in The Journey of the Fifth Horse, a fuddy duddy fussbudget he was to put in play again in Rainman. Hoffman is the least affectionate actor in the world. He is not interested in acting a character; what he is interested in is playing an actor playing a character. This means he is interested in being noticed for his “acting,” which is why he does not really qualify for character parts and why he is not to be taken seriously in Tootsie and Rainman. So once more we get Hoffman’s automaton, a fancy characterization that never leaves the studio easel. The result is that he does not really relate to his co-star, which leaves Steve McQueen to carry the picture. McQueen is a limited but interesting actor of great technical cleverness and masculine sex appeal for both genders. He has beautiful wary blue eyes in a small eventful face in a well-shaped head. Here he and Hoffman wear rot-tooth dentures and a ruination of clothes, which help, but one never puts money down on their partnership in escape. For all his carryings on, Hoffman is just no fun. His plaintive whine is designed to elicit pity, but it inspires exasperation instead. On the other hand, McQueen’s other-side-of-the-tracks tuning aid him forcefully in being this pertinacious underdog who refuses to stop escaping. The film is his and it remains one of the proudest efforts of his craft.


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