Tuesday, January 31, 2017

W. Somerset Maugham Is Back with a Final Encore

Encore (1951) was the third and final W. Somerset Maugham anthology film, following the excellent Quartet (1948) and its "sequel" Trio (1950). As before, Maugham provides a brief introduction (from his chateau in France). Then, it's on to the first of three stories, "The Ant and the Grasshopper," a cynical look at a ne'er-do-well who does remarkably well indeed. It features a fine cast and makes Maugham's point effectively (i.e., the worthless brother succeeds in life, the hard-working one has a rough time). Still, it's a bit of a boring affair.

Kay Walsh in "Winter Cruise."
On the other hand, "Winter Cruise" starts out slowly, but evolves into a touching tale about a woman on holiday who annoys a ship's crew to the point of exhaustion. Kay Walsh, who was once married to David Lean, gives a wonderfully rounded performance. It was one of those acting jobs that sends one to the IMDb to learn more about the performer.

Glynis Johns about to make the dive.
My favorite of the three stories, though, is the final one: the oddly-titled "Gigolo and Gigolette." Of course, it stars Glynis Johns and  I adore her, so I admit there may be some prejudice influencing my preference. Glynis plays a nightclub performer who dives from an 80-foot platform into a "lake of flames" just five feet deep (click here to watch the sequence on our YouTube channel). Thinking her husband no longer loves her, she appears to have lost her will to live. It climaxes with her climbing the ladder as her husband races to save her. From a narrative point, it's a simple story, but executed wonderfully (I love the small details, such as the sound of the wind at the top of the diving platform).

It's too bad that Encore was the last of the Maugham anthologies--though it's always good to go out on a strong note...as opposed to lingering around too long.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Marathon Man: "Is it safe?"

Memory is a funny thing. Prior to a recent viewing of Marathon Man, the only things I could remember about this 1976 thriller were the unnerving tooth-drilling scene and Roy Scheider doing push-ups with his feet on the bed and hands on the floor.

Although it's an atypical John Schlesinger film, the opening sequence showcases the director at his best. An elderly German man removes a metal band-aid box from a safety deposit box and slips it discreetly to another man. As he drives away in his Mercedes, the German has a run-in with a Jewish man that escalates quickly from a shouting match to a dangerous car chase along the narrow confines of New York city streets. The conflict ends when the two men crash their cars into a fuel truck--the safety deposit key falling to the asphalt as flames engulf it.

Hoffman as the graduate...student.
The importance of this scene doesn't become apparent until later as the plot shifts to Thomas Babington "Babe" Levy (Dustin Hoffman). Babe is a graduate student at Columbia University whose dissertation has the uninviting title of "The Use of Tyranny in American Political Life." Babe still keeps the gun that his father, a famous academic accused of Communist sympathies, used to commit suicide. It's an odd thing to do, but then Babe is a social misfit with no friends other than his frequently absent brother Doc (Roy Scheider).

Hence, it seems a bit odd when a pretty Swiss student (Marthe Keller) responds to Babe's awkward advances. When Doc--the sharp-dressed opposite of his brother--meets Babe's girlfriend, he immediately spots a fraud. But then, nothing is as it seems in Marathon Man and that includes Doc, too.

The most interesting aspect of Marathon Man is that Hoffman seems to be playing an older version of Ben Braddock from The Graduate (1967). Perhaps, this is what happened to Ben when things didn't work out with Elaine after their escape on the bus! (I never expected the couple to find true happiness, did you?) And, of course, the obvious irony is that Hoffman is a playing a graduate in one film and a grad student in the other.

Laurence Olivier as the villain.
As for Marathon Man, after a quick start (the car chase), it lumbers along until Scheider and Laurence Olivier show up. The latter earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination as a Nazi war criminal who is forced to come out of seclusion to secure his investment in diamonds. I don't think the role was a difficult one for Olivier, but somehow he manages to exude pure evil as he interrogates Babe by repeating the single line: "Is it safe?" In fact, that line ranked #70 on the American Film Institute's 100 Years...100 Quotes.

Roy Scheider, one of the 1970s most reliable leading men, excelled in playing edgy roles (The French Connection, Sorcerer, All That Jazz). He makes Doc the film's most interesting character--a sleek professional who is willing to help war criminals for the right price, but also an affectionate brother to the socially-challenged Babe.

The well-dressed Scheider.
Scheider and Olivier make Marathon Man easy to watch, though I wish both of them had more screen time. Frankly, Hoffman's protagonist is pretty boring. Director Schlesinger compensates somewhat by capturing the pulse of New York City, giving the film a much-needed vibrancy. He also book-ends the film with two fine scenes: the aforementioned chase and a sequence in which a concentration camp survivor recognizes Olivier's villain and follows him on the city's busy streets, shouting out his name.

I rarely mention continuity gaffes in movies because...well...anyone can make a mistake. However, I was amused by Babe's changing footwear during his kidnap scene. He appears to be barefoot when initially nabbed. Later, I could swear he's wearing socks. Finally, when he escapes and is running away from the baddies, he sports shoes on his feet. Maybe I just missed the scene where he finds his shoes. Or maybe he's just not as tough as some of those Olympic athletes that run in their bare feet.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Classic British TV Themes Quiz

The Movie-TV Connection Game is taking this month off (at its vacation home in sunny Florida). So, in its place, we're introducing the first edition of the Classic British TV Themes Quiz.

We'll play a snippet of the opening or closing theme of a British TV series from the 1960s or 1970s. Your mission (should you decide to accept it) is to name the show. All of these TV series were also broadcast in the U.S. There are ten themes, so it won't take long to play.

Just click on the video below to play. Please leave a comment to let us know how you did--but don't list the answers. Good luck!


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Claudelle Inglish: "I wanted to be bad as I could be!"

Diane McBain as Claudelle Inglish.
In the late 1950s, Warner Bros. discovered a winning formula for big-screen soap operas aimed at the teenage crowd. These economical potboilers featured young contract players surrounded by Hollywood veterans and featured then-provocative themes such as pre-marital sex, low self-esteem, and illegitimate babies. The most successful of these films were A Summer Place (1959) and Parrish (1961), which both starred Troy Donahue.

Diane McBain and Chad Everett.
Warner Bros. released Claudelle Inglish in 1961. It starred Diane McBain, who appeared with Donahue in Parrish as well as the TV series Surfside 6 (1960-62). She plays the title character, an attractive young woman who lives with her parents on a Southern tenant farm. Her shyness and poverty cause her to maintain a low profile in high school--but that doesn't stop handsome Linn Varner (Chad Everett) from pursuing her.

Claudelle's mother (Constance Ford) wants her daughter to marry the much older S.T. Crawford (Claude Akin), a widower and wealthy property owner. However, Claudelle becomes smitten with Linn and it's not long before she gives in to his manly desires. They become engaged, but decide to wait to marry until after Linn serves his two-year Army hitch.

Alas, one day Claudelle receives a letter in which Linn confesses that he has fallen in love with someone else. At first, Claudelle is devastated, but eventually she decides to get even by making herself available to every man to the county. Despite pleas from her parents, she cannot stop herself from traveling down the road to self-destruction.

The provocative poster.
Based on Erskine Caldwell's 1958 novel, it's easy to dismiss Claudelle Inglish as drive-in movie fodder. However, that would be doing a disservice to Diane McBain's sensitive performance. She makes it clear that Claudelle doesn't become a tramp out of vengeance toward Linn (though that surely played a part in the beginning).

Rather, it's the poor girl's way of coping with low self-esteem. More than once, Claudelle tells people that she never plans to marry. She doesn't think she's worthy of it. She shows no interest in even trying to find happiness. When one of her beaus, who wants to marry her, gets into a fight with a "bad boy" (named Rip, of course), Claudelle jilts the nice guy and goes off with Rip.

Will Hutchins, Robert Colbert, and McBain.
Diane McBain, who played a traditional "bad girl" in Parrish, finds the perfect tone as Claudelle. She sizzles on screen when trying to attract men and then elicits sympathy when she wallows in guilt after sleeping with them. The supporting cast includes two Summer Place alumni: Arthur Kennedy as Claudelle's understanding father and Constance Ford as her pushy mother. The rest of the cast consist of a bevy of familar TV faces, to include: Everett (looking vert young), Akins, Will Hutchins (Sugarfoot), and Robert Colbert (Time Tunnel).

The production values aren't as high as Warner's other teen soaps. Thus, there's no plush color scenery (A Summer Place and Susan Slade) and no fabulous Max Steiner score (although Howard Jackson contributes a respectable soundtrack). Interestingly, the prolific costume designer Howard Shoup earned the third of his five Oscar nominations for Best Costume Design (Black & White) for Claudelle Inglish. He never won an Oscar.

Still, the primary reason to see Claudelle Inglish is for Diane McBain's performance. Sadly, it was probably the highlight of her acting career. Her Warner Bros. contract kept her mostly confined to TV series appearances. When it ended in the mid-1960s, she failed to land any juicy film roles and ended up in "B" pictures like The Mini-Skirt Mob (1968).

Monday, January 16, 2017

Alan Ladd Betrayed in "Captain Carey, U.S.A."

The studio sets are pretty convincing.
Webb Carey (Alan Ladd) provides intelligence to the Allies while hiding out on an island off the coast of Italy during World War II. The local residents know about the Americano and a fellow officer, but not the location of their base of operations. It turns out that Webb has discovered a secret room belonging to the de Cresci family, where valuable art has been stored for centuries.

Webb has also fall in love with Giulia de Cresci, whom he calls Julie. Tragedy strikes when the Nazis somehow discover the secret room and shoot Webb, kill his friend, and drag Julie away--as Webb hears a gunshot.

Years later, long after the war has ended, Webb finds a de Cresci-owned painting--one once stored in the secret room--for sale by an art dealer in New York. That causes him to return to Italy to find out who betrayed him and who murdered Julie.

Made in 1950, the blandly-titled Captain Carey, U.S.A. is a post-war drama in the same vein as The Third Man (1949) and Cornered (1944). It most closely resembles the latter, which is a far better film than Captain Carey. That's not Alan Ladd's fault. He carries the first half of the film on his shoulders admirably. His disillusioned character reminds me of a watered-down version of the noir anti-heroes he played in classics like This Gun for Hire.

Alan Ladd and Wanda Hendrix.
It should come as no surprise that Julie is not dead and, even worse, she is married to another man. When she finally confronts an embittered Webb, he quips: "What do you want from me? A wedding present?"

Any hopes for a post-war noir vanish, though, when Webb and Julie team up to find a killer who has been covering their treasonous tracks. Wanda Hendrix, who portrays Julie, never convinces the audience that she is a strong-willed survivor equally obsessed with the truth. She's certainly no match for Ladd's driven hero and she somehow manages to make him seem less interesting.

Ladd listening to "Mona Lisa."
There are still some bright spots in Captain Carey, U.S.A. The film introduced the popular Ray Evans-Jerry Livingston song "Mona Lisa," which won an Oscar. It was not crooned by Nat King Cole in the movie, though. Instead, it's sung by the partisans as a warning for the approach of the Nazis. The film also boasts an early screen appearance by Russ (billed as Rusty) Tamblyn, who gets a chance to show off his acrobatic skills.

If you're searching for a gripping post-war revenge drama, then I recommend watching Cornered, which features one of Dick Powell's best performances. However, you could do worse than Captain Carey and, if you're an Alan Ladd fan, then you'll likely enjoy it.


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Dick Gautier Chats with the Café about Birdie, "Get Smart," Robin Hood, and His Caricatures

As a tribute to the late Dick Gautier, who passed away on January 13, 2017, we're republishing his interview with us from 2013.

Actor, singer, composer, author, artist, and voice talent--Dick Gautier is pretty much a man of all media. Perhaps best known as Hymie the Robot on TV's Get Smart, Mr. Gautier has appeared in over 100 films and TV series according to the Internet Movie Database, as well as ten stage productions. He still acts occasionally (having appeared in an episode of Nip/Tuck) and has gained fame as a caricaturist. Despite the hectic schedule, he found time to drop by the Café for a chat.

Café:  You portrayed Conrad Birdie in the original Broadway production of Bye Bye Birdie and received a Tony nomination for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical. How did you come to be cast as Conrad?

Gautier (in gold) as Conrad Birdie in
the original Broadway production.
Dick Gautier:  Unbeknownst to most folks, I started as a stand-up comedian. I was not really a joke teller, although I enjoy telling stories in which you can improvise and utilize character voices and accents, and that little advertised phase of my career has gotten me to places in the industry I never dreamed of. After my four-year stint in the Navy (U.S., thank you), I worked at the hungry i in San Francisco. I followed Mort Sahl, who had just made a good name for himself. As a side note, Maya Angelou, the distinguished poet, once opened for me doing a calypso act. The Purple Onion, which was across the street, spawned people like Phyllis Diller, the Kingston Trio, etc. I then went to New York and worked (after several fruitless months) at The Blue Angel, where I appeared with Margaret Whiting. It was there that Gower Champion, the wonderful dancer who--with his wife Marge--graced many MGM musicals, came in with Charles Strouse, the composer. They evidently stayed until the end of my show where I sang briefly, because a month later I received a call in Chicago from my agents, who told me that I was to meet about a project called Bye Bye Birdie. I flew to NY, we met, I sang for them and after they bolstered up my insecurities (I was comfortable singing Gershwin or Jerome Kern--but not rock 'n' roll), I got the part, over, I was told, about 750 other guys. I didn’t understand why I was chosen and I still don’t get it to this day. But I’m grateful. It was a great cast, Dick (Van Dyke), Chita (Rivera), Paul (Lynde), and Susan (Watson). Gower was a wonderful director and it began a totally unanticipated phase of my career.

Café:  Dick Van Dyke and Paul Lynde appeared in both the stage and film versions of Bye Bye Birdie. Was there any discussion about you recreating your role for the film?

DG:  My agents at William Morris didn’t want me to get typecast as a rock 'n' roll guy and the script was undergoing major changes; the part of Kim (Susan Watson) was being redone for Ann-Margret and Birdie was taking a backseat. So, we opted out of the film because, as my agents said: "The film along with the stage show would make the part indelibly mine." Not a good idea. They were right. I avoided the casting trap and poor Jesse Pearson (Birdie in the movie) didn’t have much of a career after that and passed away rather young.

Café:  You were brilliant as Hymie the Robot on Get Smart. How did you get the part and what was it like working on Get Smart?

Gautier as Hymie the robot in the
season 2 episode "Anatomy of a Lover."
DG:  It was fun doing Hymie on Get Smart, though not an actor’s challenge. When I met with the powers that be, I told them that when I was a kid in Canada I saw a man in a storefront window acting like a manikin to drum up business. If you could make him smile, you’d get $10. So, I tried, but not by acting crazy--I merely imitated his movements. I didn’t win the $10, but I got the part of Hymie, which was a little better. Again, I was blessed to be working with a talented, nice group of actors. Don (Adams), Barbara (Feldon), Ed Platt, and even Victor French, who was always stuck in a clock or something. They were always pleasant and creative and encouraging to me.

Café:  You were always a popular panelist on game shows like Password, The Match Game, and Win, Lose or Draw. What were your favorite game shows and why?

DG:  I loved doing game shows. Sure, the games were fun, but the other celebrities were usually quick-witted opponents and we had a great time trying to crack each other up. (I’m a patsy, it’s easy to get to me).  I especially liked Password because I’m sort of a word freak. I enjoy etymology (word derivations) and being a part-time writer. I enjoy word play of all kinds. Match Game was fun because Gene Rayburn and all the others were absolute crackups. I always felt guilty accepting the money. (Well, not THAT guilty!)    

As Robin Hood in When Things Were Rotten.
Café:  You played Robin Hood on Mel Brooks' When Things Were Rotten, a delightful parody that was sadly cancelled after 13 episodes. It has a big cult following now. What are your memories of working on it?

DG:  I was thrilled when I got the part of Robin Hood. I mean who ever thinks of himself as a classic character?  We had the best time. All we did was giggle it was so silly. And to work with our great guest stars like Sid Caesar and Dudley Moore or be directed by Marty Feldman…it was a hoot! I wish it had gone on longer, but Fred Silverman didn’t like it when it was offered to him at CBS, so it was no surprise that we disappeared when he took over ABC.  I don’t think he has the greatest sense of humor anyway. The jokes always parted his hair when they flew over his head.

Café:  You wrote several episodes of the TV series Love, American Style. You also penned the screenplays for Maryjane, a 1968 drama about a teacher framed for drug dealing (starring Fabian and Diane McBain) and the 1972 anti-war comedy Wild in the Sky (aka God Bless You, Uncle Sam). Did you ever consider writing screenplays full-time? And, hey, why aren't those movies on DVD?

DG:  I really enjoy writing, probably more than the people who buy movies. I’ve written at least 11 films, I’ve only sold six and two were produced. Oh well…you can’t be a hit at everything. I’m still trying. Why not? I send them out all the time, better than just sitting in a dirty underwear drawer.

Café:  You worked with just about every actor in Hollywood in the 1970s and 1980s, from Jack Nicholson to Diana Rigg to Angela Lansbury. Who were some of your favorite actors to work with and why?

Gautier and Mary Tyler Moore.
DG:  This is tough. I loved working with Diana Rigg. Mary Tyler Moore was a joy. Jimmy Stewart, what a gracious sweet man, the superbly talented Brian Dennehy, Nicholson of course, Robert Young, the charming Elizabeth Montgomery, the great Angela Lansbury, Jack Klugman--"Mr. Mench," all of Charlie’s Angels, the wonderful and weird Larry Hagman, Bob Newhart was a delight, my good pal Lucy, lovely and terrific Doris Day, funny Buck Henry, the versatile Nancy Dussault, and too many more to mention.    

Café:  You're a well-known caricaturist and oil painter. In fact, you've written several how-to books on drawing caricatures, such as The Art of Caricature (1985), The Creative Cartoonist (1988), and Drawing and Cartooning 1,001 Figures in Action (1994). How did you become interested in art?

Gautier's Sammy Davis, Jr.
caricature.
DG:   I've always drawn cartoons and caricatures. It got me in big trouble when I was a kid, ridiculing my teachers, but I was a class clown anyway so that was merely another extension of the same stuff. I got a little more "serious" later and tried portraits in acrylics and oils. My relatives in Canada are painters and so I come by it naturally. The books were a complete surprise to me. I got one published and then two… and finally up through fourteen. But no more, I've squeezed an awful lot of books out of a very small talent. I can’t think of another idea anyway.

Café:  Looking back over your acting career in stage, film, and television, what are your favorite roles?

DG:  I’d have to say Birdie, Robin Hood, Hymie, the stage musical Little Me where I got to play seven different characters, all written by Neil Simon, The Rockford Files as a real bad guy, South Pacific where I got to stretch my vocal range as Emile De Becque, and as the preacher in Fun with Dick and Jane with Jane Fonda and George Segal.

Café:  You seem to stay incredibly busy. Are there any upcoming projects you want to share with our readers?

DG:  I try to stay busy, it’s easier since I’m getting "up in years," but I recently wrote a play and it’s gotten some nice reactions from those who've read it. It’s called Commisseration and it’s a dialogue between two guys in their sixties. Some think it’s very funny, some think it’s "touching," some think it stinks. We’ll see. We’re close to a production with a couple of very fine actors and I’ll direct. If this all works out, it will be pretty exciting.  

You can learn more about Dick Gautier at his web site:  www.dickgautier.com and even purchase some of his artwork.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Introducing the International TV Blog!

We're pleased to announce that the International TV Blog has joined the Classic Film & TV Cafe's "family." The focus of this new blog is on television series from Great Britain, Japan, Australia, and around the globe.
Its first review is about the addictive Australian television series A Place to Call Home. Set in the 1950s, it centers around Sarah Adams (Marta Dusseldorp), a nurse who has returned home after many years. When her reunion with her mother does not go well, Sarah accepts a job in the rural town of Inverness. Sarah becomes involved with the Bligh family and its powerful matron Elizabeth. The two women clash frequently, in large part because Elizabeth's son George is attracted to Sarah--but also because Sarah knows a secret about one of the family members.

The strength of A Place to Call Home is how its gradually reveals pertinent details about its characters' pasts. For example, it's evident that Sarah is a woman of strength and perseverance from the moment she's introduced. However, the series slowly reveals the pieces from her past that made her that way. Likewise, it's not until season three that we learn how some of George's actions were driven by his relationship with his now-dead father.

You can visit the International TV Blog and read the full review. In fact, we hope you'll drop in from time to time to see what's new in the world of international television.

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Five Best Jack Lemmon Performances

1. The Apartment (1960) - This is an obvious choice, but I can't think of a better Jack Lemmon performance than his turn as ambitious junior executive C.C. Baxter. It helps, of course, that Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond provide Lemmon with an extremely well-written character that allows the actor to showcase both his dramatic and comedic skills. His scenes opposite Shirley MacLaine are legendary, but his best acting in this Wilder gem may be his climatic confrontation opposite Fred MacMurray's heartless Mr. Sheldrake.

Lemmon as Daphne.
2. Some Like It Hot (1959) - He may be third-billed, but Jack Lemmon generates more laughs than anyone else in another Wilder classic. He plays a struggling bass player who witnesses a gangland massacre and goes on the lam with pal Tony Curtis--only they're disguised as members of an all-female band. As the blonde-wigged Daphne, Lemmon delivers many of the best one-liners and shines brightly in one of the funniest scenes: Daphne's tango with her wealthy suitor Osgood Fielding III (Joe E. Brown).

3. The China Syndrome (1979) - In probably the best of his later-career performances, Jack Lemmon plays a shift supervisor at a nuclear plant who gradually realizes that the reactor is dangerously close to a meltdown. Lemmon brilliantly transforms his character from an unassuming, loyal employee to one willing to do anything to expose the truth and the danger of a large-scale disaster. The performance earned him the sixth of his eight Oscar nominations. His other nominations include both Some Like It Hot and The Apartment. He won a Best Actor Oscar for Save the Tiger (1974) and a Supporting Actor Oscar for Mister Roberts (1956).

4. Days of Wine and Roses (1962) - My wife doesn't like to watch this Blake Edwards film--not because it's not a fine picture, but because Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick are achingly good as a couple that ruin their lives through alcoholism. It'd be easy to overact in some of the more dramatic scenes--such as when Lemmon's character is confined in a strait-jacket in a sanatorium. Instead, Lemmon somehow elicits sympathy for a man who has brought on his own demons and introduced them to his wife.

Jack Lemmon and Juliet Mills.
5. Avanti! (1972) - One of Wilder’s last films stars Jack Lemmon as an uptight American businessman who journeys to a small Italian town to retrieve the body of his father, who died in a car accident. To his surprise, Lemmon learns that his father was having an affair—secretly meeting his lover in the same hotel every August for the past ten years. Furthermore, Dad’s mistress died in the same accident and her daughter (Juliet Mills) shows up for the funeral. After a very leisurely opening, this quirky love story turns on the charm…helped immeasurably by the scenic setting, memorable music, and incredible chemistry between Lemmon and Mills. It's the least known film on this list, but well worth seeking out.

Honorable Mentions:  Mister Roberts; Cowboy; and The Odd Couple.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Nighthawks Makes Me a Winner!

I recently participated in a Facebook contest in which actress Catherine Mary Stewart gave away an autographed Blu-ray disc of Nighthawks (1981). I never win contests--so imagine my surprise when I was informed of my victory! The "collector's edition" of Nighthawks features lots of bonus material, including new interviews with Ms. Stewart and co-star Lindsay Wagner. But what about the movie?

Well, it starts off with Sylvester Stallone in drag. To be precise, he's dressed like a woman so he and fellow police detective Billy Dee Williams can nab a couple of street thugs. Meanwhile a terrorist-for-hire called Wulfgar (Rutger Hauer) is forced to flee Europe and relocate to New York City.

Stallone looking like Serpico.
Stallone's character, Deke DaSilva, is one of those tough cops that irritates his superiors. So, it's no surprise when he and his partner are reassigned to an anti-terrorist task force. Deke doesn't like sitting in a classroom learning about terrorists...he just wants to get out there and stop them. He gets his chance when Wulfgar starts blowing things up again. Pretty soon, it's a cat-and-mouse game between Deke and Wulfgar and the stakes are high for the denizens of NYC. (How high? In one scene, Deke recognizes Wulfgar in a crowded disco and inexplicably calls out his name--resulting in the deaths of several innocent bystanders.)

Rutger Hauer as the bad guy.
Plagued with production problems, it's almost impressive that Nighthawks is a reasonably entertaining movie. Much of the credit belongs to Rutger Hauer, who makes a strong impression in his U.S. film debut. Hauer is so good that I thought another actor was playing Wulfgar until the character had plastic surgery and transformed into a more recognizable Rutger Hauer. He also manages to make his villain charming in a creepy kind of way.

In contrast, Sylvester Stallone--decked out in Serpico-style facial hair--comes across as a one-dimensional hero. Some of his co-stars, to include Lindsay Wagner, insist that Stallone gave one of his best performances--but that his best dramatic scenes were left on the cutting room floor.

There may be some truth in that. Nighthawks was started by one director (who was fired) and finished by another. It was also heavily re-edited from 140 minutes to focus on the action elements and then trimmed to a crisp 109 minutes. The casualties include Wagner and Billy Dee Williams, who are introduced as major characters and then all but disappear. The music score by Keith Emerson of Emerson Lake & Palmer was also truncated.

Catherine Mary Stewart.
As for Catherine Mary Stewart, the 22-year-old actress appears as a sales clerk in a very brief scene with Hauer. In the interview on the Blu-ray, she reveals that her voice was dubbed, apparently because the producers didn't like her British accent. While Nighthawks may not have furthered her career, she kept auditioning for parts and became a favorite of sci fi movie fans two years later when she starred in Night of the Comet and The Last Starfighter.