' ' Cinema Romantico: Friday's Old Fashioned: The Last Run (1971)

Friday, October 06, 2023

Friday's Old Fashioned: The Last Run (1971)

The poster for the 1971 thriller “The Last Run” is pretty funny. It deems George C. Scott’s character, Harry Garmes, a one-time driver for the mob, as being “(i)n the tradition of Bogart and Hemingway.” It feels as aspirational as it does desperate, seeking to sell the movie as something it is not, the character of Harry emerging as neither a charismatic cynic in the mold of Bogey nor a raconteur like Papa. No, he’s more akin to the existential heroes of French noir, played with supreme restraint by Scott. When his character gets back into the game for, uh, well, one last run, Scott makes you believe it stems from boredom with his existence as much as a desire for the thrill of the chase, and when he proposes to the girlfriend (Trish Van Devere) of the prison escapee (Tony Musante) he’s transporting to run off with him to the states, he makes you believe it’s less from love than lack of a better idea. He is so downbeat, in fact, that he doesn’t always jibe with director Richard Fleischer’s tone, as the frequently jaunty Jerry Goldsmith goes to show, striving for something closer to a reflection of James Bond, while Fleischer’s tone doesn’t really jibe with the conclusion, one spurred by mammoth convenience and coincidence, would-be fatalism that falls fatally flat. The car chases, so key to a movie all about cars, are often oddly evoked without suspense despite the stakes, more like joyrides, which is what Scott seems to be playing to most of all, a character happiest behind the wheel. It’s why the best sequence is the first one as Harry tends to his car over the opening credits and then takes it for a spin on the Pacific Coast Highway, the wind in his hair, metaphorically seeming to drive into the sunset before the movie even begins.

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