Straight time

Rented this 1978 movie from Netflix. Dustin Hoffman in a brutal role somewhat out of character for him — but I guess he’s done a lot of out-of-character things over the years, so maybe it’s a moot point. He reminds me of a young Sean Penn in this one. Same barely contained rage.
He’s one of the best, but he suffers from the same affliction as other great actors. They get so well known that you can hardly watch them on the screen anymore without thinking of that famous face. DeNiro, Nicholson are other examples. It would be almost impossible for either one to really do anything that stands out, because they’ll always be too much themselves. Duvall and Hackman less so. They seem to rise above it somehow.
But this was 1978, when Dustin Hoffman was already The Graduate and Ratso Rizzo but not yet Tootsie and Rain Man. Plus it had great performances by some of the best character actors of the last 50 years — Harry Dean Stanton, M. Emmet Walsh and Gary Busey before he got all weird and creepy. The big surprise for me was the female lead, Teresa Russell. She was beautiful and really good. Her performance made me put The Last Tycoon on my queue just to see her again.
It’s a compelling story with suspense and action but mostly great characters and relationships. Dustin Hoffman has this spark in his eyes from the beginning that indicates he’s gonna lose it, but when he does, it’s still a surprise. The only bad thing is that it’s somewhat unbelieveable that this sweet little unemployment agency girl would fall for a sleezy ex-con like Max Dembo, with his 70s blowdried haircut and overgrown sideburns.
All in all, a great movie from the late heyday of adult Hollywood movies, before the rise of the blockbuster mentality. Directed by a Belgian dude named Ulu Grosbard. Makes me want to rent True Confessions, his 1981 movie with Duvall and DeNiro. I saw it way back then but not since.
Gotta love IMDB. If you haven’t discovered it, it’s the Internet Movie Database. You can find out everything you ever wanted to know about movies, directors, actors, TV shows… Great website. I often have it up on the computer as I’m watching videos on the TV.


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