Friday, November 5, 2010

Rough Cut

Since a reader left a comment about yesterday's post on Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), I thought I might push Rough Cut (1980) on you today.  Both were directed by talented director Don Siegel (1912 - 1991).

Rough Cut stars Burt Reynolds (b. 1936), Lesley-Anne Down (b. 1954) and David Niven (1910 - 1983).  It is a rom/com, detective story about a very successful jewel thief (Reynolds) in London, and a Scotland Yard detective (Niven) on his last case before retiring.  Of course the rom in rom/com comes in the form of the beautiful Lesley-Anne Down who was never sexier.

The supporting cast was exceptional.  Reynolds has to put together a crew to pull off the heist.  He travels around Europe to find them.  A coordinator from England, and pilots from France and Germany.  The movie sometimes seems like an excuse for the cast to travel, since the caper will take place in Holland.

Timothy West (b. 1934) plays the coordinator.  He has 113 titles listed starting in 1961.  Look for him in Ever After (1998), The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999), and 102 Dalmatians (2000), and if you get PBS or BBC on television, he appears in many of the wonderful mystery series' made by the BBC.

Patrick Magee (1922 - 1982) plays the German pilot, with a convincing accent...he was born in Ireland.  85 roles on his list, including The Masque of the Red Death (1964), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Luther (1974), and Chariots of Fire (1981).

Al Matthews (b. 1942) plays the American pilot who was picking up some cash as a jazz pianist in Paris when the heist came up.  Rough Cut was his second film, and he only has 26 titles listed, but some are impressive.  Superman III (1983), Aliens (1986), The Fifth Element and Tomorrow Never Dies in 1997.  Not bad.

Joss Ackland (b. 1928) plays a police detective in Holland.  Another actor with star power, and a great voice.  Look for him in Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) and Hunt for Red October (1990), and over 175 other roles.

Think of the screwball comedies of the 1930s and 1940s.  After the Thin Man and My Man Godfrey from 1936, Topper (1937), His Girl Friday (1940), and the like.  Rough Cut is in the same style.  You know the leads are up to something, but the ending of the movie is a bit of a turn that you won't see coming.  And I won't ruin it for you.  Sadly, this movie is not available on DVD or Netflix, but you may find it on VHS.  Its worth the effort.


  1. Apparently my last comment prompted this post...and I'm frustrated that the film isn't readily available - would love to see it, sounds fascinating. Another Don Siegel gem: The Big Steal - reteaming Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer. Siegel was underrated, I think.

  2. Yes, and thanks for the inspiration. I think, if you look hard, you can find Rough Cut from some of the smaller DIY sources, or maybe as a download. It was not very well received, so I doubt we will see it released by a major studio.

    It seems to me that people like us can look past the less than perfect aspects of a performance and see the whole picture. There are very few movies I don't like. I think its a curse.

    And readers, please take a look at The Lady Eve's very good blog called Reel Life.
    She does some good work.

  3. I will try to locate Rough Cut. When you mentioned it in your comment under Invasion of the Body Snatchers, I thought of another Burt Reynolds film of the '80s that is pretty much forgotten - City Heat (1984), with Clint Eastwood and directed by Richard Benjamin. It's set in the '30s and it must've been your comment that Rough Cut was a throwback to screwballs of the '30s/'40s that brought it to mind. City Heat was not a great film, but I enjoyed Burt and Clint together, plus Madeline Kahn. I like all kinds of movies for all kinds of reasons.
    And thank you for the kind compliment and recommendation, Allen...

  4. I don't think I've seen City Heat. Madeline Kahn always seems to force her comedy, and to a certain extent, so does Reynolds in Rough Cut. I am sure it is worth a look if I can find it! I think David Niven, and to a lesser extent Lesley-Anne Down, brought a sophistication to Rough Cut that I appreciated.

  5. Madeline Kahn's specialty seemed to be playing in-your-face,over-the-top comedic characters. I'm thinking of Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. I first saw her in What's Up, Doc? - a film filled with colorful supporting actors/characters.

  6. I like What's Up Doc as well. I wrote about that film in August.


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