Monday, February 19, 2007

Schwarzenegger Sunday: Raw Deal

For an overview of Schwarzenegger Sunday, check out the Marching Orders to the right. Note – there will always be spoilers.

Arnold plays Mark Kaminsky, a former FBI officer who had been kicked out for being too abusive with an arrestee. We find him living as a small town sheriff in North Carolina, driving around in a jeep. FBI Chief Harry Shannon (Darren McGavin) has a son named Blair who works in the bureau and is murdered by mobsters. Displeased with the government’s efforts to obtain justice for the perpetrators, he secretly hires Kaminsky to infiltrate the mob, determine who was responsible for Blair’s death, and kill them. But first Kaminsky must fake his own death and take on an assumed identity, Joseph P. Brenner. He adeptly infiltrates, impressing the two leaders, Patrovita and Rocca. However, the gang eventually uncovers his ruse and sets him up to kill Shannon. Kaminsky recognizes Shannon at the last second and murders the other two assailants, but not before Shannon is shot several times. Kaminsky then goes on a rampage, killing all of the remaining mobsters as well as the crooked district attorney, played by Murphy Brown’s Joe Regalbuto. Finally, we learn that Kaminsky has gotten back with his wife and she is now pregnant. He is also able to coax Shannon into trying to walk again after his staunch desire to remain crippled. They embrace and the movie ends.

Plethora of “Ahnold” lines: First of all, Arnold’s accent is still extremely thick at this point in his career, so nearly everything that comes out of his mouth sounds like a goofy line. It’s wildly entertaining to hear him say anything. That said, I have to think that this movie is near the top of Arnold's oeuvre for “lines per minute.” Here’s a list of some of the ones I caught: “"Impersonating an officer, resisting arrest, fraud, reckless driving, lying to the sheriff." "Magic or Magnet?" "A guy who's probably going to be dead before it's out of warranty." "Winning improves your wardrobe." "Max, if you're the best there is, the wheel would've never been invented." "You see, in Miami, we can tell everything but the flow of the blow." "Nothing special, all these alleys probably have rats." "’Joseph P Brenner.’ ‘What's the P stand for?’ ‘Pussy!’" "I don't know why they advertise sleeping pills on television, I mean a couple of bottles of champagne - knocks you right out." "I hope you're not your mother's only child." "’I'll get you a nice 8x10.’ ‘Keep it, I'm not sentimental.’" "’How many people have you killed?’ ‘Three. You want names and addresses?’" "We're finished shopping." "Do you own a calendar, Max? I bet it's a Jewish holiday." "To do what an old friend asked me to do. Knock 'em dead!" "This must be what they mean by 'poetic justice.'" "Because of you, a lot of people are dead. And now it's your turn." "Resign or be prosecuted. Any way you want it.” 7
Quality of “Ahnold” lines: As you can see above, it’s all rather awful. None of these lines are either good or able to stand on their own. However, he does have one repeatable one. After arriving home to find his wife intoxicated and finishing up a cake. Angry, she hurls the cake in his direction which leads to Kaminsky stating, “You should not drink and bake.” But generally, the script is a piece of garbage with little worth mentioning. 2

“I’ll be back.”: Kaminsky does say, “I’ll be right back” at a key point near the end of the movie, but that does not count so it’s n/a
Smarmy Villain: Patrovita is played by Sam Wanamaker and comes across more as a hothead than a sinister scoundrel. You definitely have to wonder if he really would have been able to rise to the top of the Chicago crime syndicate if he has such trouble keeping his temper in check. His right hand man, Rocca, is maybe a bit smarmier, but actually seems like kind of a nice guy. Patrovia’s evil enough, he just doesn’t have the panache we expect from Arnold’s adversaries. 3

Rough and Tumble Henchman: Robert Davi is one of the all-time great rough and tumble character actors. You may remember him from such films as Die Hard, The Goonies, or License to Kill. This is not his greatest performance, but he fits our criteria perfectly. 9

Diminutive Sidekick: Kaminsky has no sidekick, but does work with Shannon throughout his mission. Darren McGavin is clearly way too good an actor to be in this film. He has a number of emotional scenes which seem a bit weird considering all the fluff surrounding him. I have no idea how tall he is, which is a good thing since he’s not a true sidekick anyway. n/a
Rejected hot love interest: Kaminsky’s wife, Amy, is played by Blanche Baker who’s best known as Molly Ringwald’s older sister set to marry the oily bohunk in Sixteen Candles. She’s not gorgeous, but definitely attractive. It doesn’t help her cause that she is loaded in her only scene. She certainly appears to be rejected as Kaminsky first fakes his own death and then doesn’t appear to give her much thought. But in the end, he comes back to her and they’re going to have a baby! 4
Not nearly hot enough love interest: Kathryn Harrold plays “Monique”, although I don’t believe her name is ever actually mentioned in the movie. Her role in the story is confusing to say the least. She’s either working with the mob to try to get info on Kaminsky, or she’s actually falling in love with him. And he’s either using her to help validate his cover, or he’s somewhat interested, but can’t actually get physical because of his wife. Clearly they felt they needed a woman in the story, but had no idea what to do with her, but at least the scene where they share three bottles of champagne in her apartment delivers hilarious unintentional comedy. 4

Arnold yelling: Near the end of the movie, Kaminsky blasts the Rolling Stones as he attacks a construction site that has some sort of ties to the mob. After jumping from his car just before it is smashed by heavy construction equipment, he lets out a “Yiahh.” 3

Arnold cursing: The script is full of cursing, but I don’t believe Kaminsky lets even one out. This is shocking. One has to wonder if his role is to somehow be such a good guy that he’s above swearing. n/a

Arnold crazyface: It’s brief, but during the alleyway fight scene, we get this beauty: 7

Superfluous Explosions: They come and go here. The fake death scene goes boom:
And the scene where Lamanski is taken out has one of those, car drives through warehouse, car leaves warehouse, car runs directly into randomly parked fuel truck:
On the whole, we get a hell of a lot of superfluous gunfire, but nothing special with the explosions. 3

Director: John Irvin is best known for helming Hamburger Hill. None of his movies are very highly rated, and he never worked with Arnold again. However, Dino Delaurentiis was an executive producer on this one, and he produced both Conan movies.

Franco Columbu: n/a

Sven Ole-Thorsen: We go nearly the whole way before we get a glimpse of Sven. He turns up in the final shootout massacre as “Patrovita’s Bearded Bodyguard”. See for yourself: 8

Shirtless Arnold: Kaminsky spends most of the movie wearing clothes. A lot of different clothes. A lot of different really awful clothes. This is no fashion fiesta. Check this stuff out:
For shirtlessness, in the champagne scene, Monique manages to unbutton his shirt and take a good look at him, exclaiming, “Oh… My… God.” Then, just to make sure you’ve had enough, there’s a totally unnecessary scene near the end of the movie where Kaminsky towels off after a shower. 8

Severely brutal killing of rough and tumble henchman: Max is dispatched with a simple gunshot in an abrupt cemetery scene. It’s not brutal at all. 1

Even more severely brutal killing of villain: Kaminksy shoots the hell out of Rocca, riddling him with bullets. He then shoots Patrovita in the back as he is running to his office to call the police. Things don’t seem so brutal, but in order to, well, I don’t have the first clue why he does this, but Kaminsky pours a bowl of candy onto the back of Patrovita. This would have been a good time for him to say, “Now you can taste sweet death,” or something equally ridiculous. 3

Plausibly implausible plot: Actually, the plot here is really not that farfetched compared to most Schwarzenegger films. The faking of his own death seems a bit off, and the Monique character makes no damn sense most of the time, but there’s not a ton here I would say is unbelievable. The most ridiculous thing in the movie is the fact that in the final shootout, bullets hit the disco lights resulting in them being turned on. Even though it's not too farfetched, I don’t know that we believe any of this is real. 2

Ambiguous ending: Everything is tied up when we’re done. All the bad guys are dead, Kaminksy is back with his wife who no longer drinks and bakes (we can only assume this, since she’s preggers and all). Chief Shannon is going to walk again. Kaminsky will not gain an improved fashion sense. There’s really nothing left to be resolved. 1

This was one of the few Schwarzenegger films I had not seen before beginning this project, and after viewing it, I can see why. It’s terrible. There is a lot to appreciate, especially involving Arnold. His accent is ridiculous in this one, particularly on his last line to Shannon: “Did yeu evah quit in fruhnt uv Blaiuh?” When he walks or runs, he’s still so gigantic that he resembles a robot. Kaminksy is constantly smoking cigars. I think he goes through about a dozen of them. The music is absolutely horrendous – there is bad country, glam rock, and some sort of funky, jazzy glam rock. And to top it all off, there’s an extremely wooden homage to Casablanca where Kaminsky sends Monique off on a plane and calls her “Sweetheart.” I can’t recommend this movie to anyone unless you are hoping to have a good laugh at its expense. However, after making this clunker, Arnold really stepped it up with Predator, The Running Man, Red Heat, Twins, and Total Recall. So maybe he learned from the mistakes he made in this one.

All the Schwarzenegger Sundays:
The Terminator
The Running Man
True Lies
Pumping Iron
Conan The Barbarian
Total Recall
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Last Action Hero
Roundup, Part I
Roundup, Part II
The George W. Bush Administration


Anonymous said...

thank you for the blog. just a couple of questions: under the Davi section you have part of a sentence linked to a youtube video (meat and you) that has nothing to do with it. mistake? also, what do the footnote numbers in orange color mean?

Reed said...

The link was more about my phrasing than about Robert Davi. It was a link to a Troy McClure school video. McClure always leads off with, "You might remember me from such films as..." So I was merely referencing that. For a Robert Davi link, go here:
or here:

I updated the Schwarzenegger Sunday overview page to lay things out a bit more clearly, and explain what the numbers are. Thanks for pointing out that it was ambiguous. Click on Schwarzenegger Sunday under Marching Orders at the top right for more info.