52 Pick-Up John Frankenheimer

52 Pick-Up John Frankenheimer
When was the last time mainstream Hollywood did something truly sleazy? Not trying-too-hard sleazy in the Robert Rodriguez/Eli Roth manner but casual, off-the-cuff grubby with no self-consciousness or winking irony? If you think it’s been too long you owe it to yourself to travel back to 1986 and check out the sordid goings-on in 52 Pick-Up. The film deals with a successful businessman (Roy Scheider) who’s been having an affair with a bimbo (Kelly Preston) unbeknownst to his wife (Ann-Margret). This naturally leads to him being blackmailed by a trio of bottom feeders (John Glover, Clarence Williams III and Robert Trebor) who have no qualms about framing him for his mistress’s murder and sucking him dry indefinitely. Unable to go to the police, Scheider has no choice but to take matters into his own hands and turn the filthy parasites against each other. The story (from an Elmore Leonard novel) depends far too much on chance and character weakness but plot isn’t really what I’m after here — more to my liking is the film’s hilariously grotty underworld of seedy bars, porno shoots and nude model parlours where everything goes and too much is never enough. Glover nails his role as the villain you love to hate and he does so many reprehensible things that you have trouble linking the Hollywood that made this to the one that just released Wild Hogs. The ambiance is so delightfully skuzzy that the many inconsistencies flew straight over my head, as if anybody could notice them over the haze of smoke and the glow of lava lamps in the background. Director John Frankenheimer had clearly fallen from his Manchurian Candidate glory days but if he could make this kind of delightful trash, who am I to argue? (MGM)