Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Kaleidoscope (1966)

Kaleidoscope (Jack Smight, 1966) Very slight entertainment and very much of the 60's about a grifter, Barney Lincoln (Warren Beatty), who comes up with an undetectable (if somewhat complicated work-intensive) system for cheating at cards—let's just say it starts at the manufacturing process and leave it at that), then gallivants around Europe playing poker at specific casino's that will be easy prey to his scheme.  

It's shot off the cuff (in a slightly more disciplined manner than, say, Richard Lester of that same period), has two stylish stars in Beatty and Susannah York in a sort of fly-by-night romance of convenience, and some rather nice acting turns by Clive Revill (as the Scotland Yard detective who stumbles on to the plot and, rather than prosecute Lincoln, decides it would be better to employ his ploy to bring down a more dangerous target) and a weirdly affected Eric Porter (as that intended target). 
Smight had just come off the Paul Newman vehicle Harper, and he could be counted on to keep things well-lit and bereft of any subtlety or nuance, or even sub-text, that might get in the way of enjoying the film. But where Harper had an early 60's feel to it that clashed with some of the more ornate aspects of the screenplay (a California self-help cult, for instance), Kaleidoscope has a fey mod-Bond smell to it, that would turn into a five alarm conflagration with the next year's Casino Royale (five directors and no sense). Thank God, Smight didn't take it that far, instead having the villain of the piece (and one is not entirely sure what villainy he intends) resemble Napoleon, and throwing some stylish touches to the art direction.
"...claustrophobic and closed-in."
Smight started his career in television and would bounce back and forth between the two mediums with the winds of fortune and box-office. His TV projects usually rose above the limitations of the medium, but his movies never seemed suited for theaters, feeling claustrophobic and if they were made for television. Not as witty as it would like to be, and not as stylish as it attempts, Kaleidoscope is a diversion. But nothing more.

No comments:

Post a Comment