- Enjoy £1.00 reward to spend on movies or TV on Amazon Video when you purchase a DVD or Blu-ray offered by Amazon.co.uk. A maximum of 1 reward per customer applies. UK customers only. Offer ends at 23:59 GMT on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 Here's how (terms and conditions apply)
Other Sellers on Amazon
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Special offers and product promotions
Frequently bought together
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
1958: Gambler Jack Weil (Robert Redford) meets a woman, Bobby Duran (Lena Olin), on a boat bound for Havana. She is working for Castro's rebel forces, who are attempting to overthrow the Batista Government. Jack agrees to help her with some smuggling, but he then continues on his way, hoping to set up a high-stakes card game. When he and Bobby meet again, however, he is asked to become more involved in the cause.
When Havana was released in 1990, a lot of reviewers unfavourably compared it to Casablanca, and those comparisons (in addition to audience indifference) turned the film into a box-office disaster. It deserved a better fate, because, while this is certainly no masterpiece, it's an intelligent and lavishly produced film about a chapter of history--the final days of Cuba under the collapsing Batista regime--that remains largely unfamiliar. It's a compelling political backdrop for the story of a high-stakes gambler (Robert Redford) who comes to Cuba seeking the big score in poker games, following his expectation that high rollers will bet wildly as the Cuban government crashes around their heads. In Havana, Redford meets the wife (Lena Olin) of a Communist revolutionary (Raul Julia) with ties to Fidel Castro, and their attraction becomes powerfully mutual after her husband is presumed killed by Cuban police. What follows, as Cuba falls and Redford's character is forced into a crisis of conscience, is a mini-epic love story with tragic overtones, handled with great skill (albeit lagging pace) by long-time Redford collaborator Sydney Pollack. True, it's not nearly as memorable as Casablanca, but this is a worthwhile film, especially if you are interested in the political upheavals in pre-Castro Cuba. --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Customers who bought this item also bought
Top customer reviews
As for the muscial score, its absolutely breathtaking, for those who are into latin jazz must listen to the exquisite score by dave grusin with alex acuna & lee ritenour to name a few.
Havana in my opinion shouldve been a hit, a moderate one but seeing as the end might have disapointed romantic zealots, thats how life really is i suppose.
Universal's DVD boasts a decent widescreen transfer, trailer ands brief featurette.
I agree that the cinematography is top notch and Pollack does a brilliant job with capturing the essence of life in 'Havana' just before Castro's revolution. What I liked best was how he moved to compare what was happening in the real world among the Cubans themselves and that of the American (and other) tourists who only knew the world of casinos, dancing and a good time in general. He takes the comparison further by building it into his main characters; one a poker player who refuses to get involved or care about anything other than surviving and making money and the other the wife of a high ranking rebel.
Unfortunately, the movie seemed a little disjointed at first as I struggled to figure out who was who and what was really going on (I don't pretend to know much about Cuban history!). Once I got involved it was interesting but not mind blowing and eventually I ended up tired and bored as it hit the 2hr mark in running time. Hence the overall rating of 3 stars.
That's the recipe for the drink political correctness has renamed "Rum and Coke," but which most of us also still know by its original name, Cuba Libre. And the cocktail invented just over 100 years ago in honor of Cuba's freedom from Spain perfectly epitomizes the state of the island republic's society towards the late 1950s' end of the Batista regime: A sweet, tangy, intoxicating Caribbean foundation, mixed with the classical American exports; from Coke, cars and cigarettes to expatriates and their money ... except, alas, for the one truly valuable thing the U.S. might have brought to Cuba, an understanding of democracy. Instead, during Batista's 30-year dictatorship, Cuba - and particularly Havana - became the Latin Las Vegas, a place where the action was on, the stakes were high, flesh was cheap, gambling was legal (and largely controlled by American mobster Meyer Lansky) and the party never ended.
Until, beset by the revolutionary movement led by a certain Fidel Castro, Batista fled the country in the early morning hours of January 1, 1959. And suddenly the party was over.
The last days of Batista's regime are the backdrop for 1990's "Havana," which sees high-stakes poker ace Jack Weil (Robert Redford) in Cuba for the game of his life. He has "played every elks' club and moose hole in America" and remembers "every hand of every game," he tells Lansky's right-hand man Joe Volpi (Alan Arkin). Now he wants a shot at the big one - playing "with guys who don't even think how much they're playing for." And he knows that the revolutionary fever in the air has the same effect on gamblers as a potent aphrodisiac on those in pursuit of Havana's other main commodity; so in Jack's eyes, now's the time or never. Yet, although liberally indulging in all of Havana's pleasures, he couldn't care less about Cuban politics. All he thinks he needs to know is "who's in charge, and how to stay out of trouble."
But then he meets Roberta Duran (Lena Olin at the top of her game), the wife of a wealthy physician aligned with Castro. (Raul Julia, who, despite a stellar performance, chose to remain uncredited, reportedly because he didn't receive first billing alongside Redford - a great pity, and a disservice to himself.) Now Jack falls in love, badly enough to go against his life's entire philosophy to try and save Roberta from Batista's henchmen after her husband has been arrested and supposedly killed, and she questioned and tortured by the secret police. And now Jack really does get to play the game of his life - except that now it's no longer about cards at all; and when Volpi at last does put together the big game he has lobbied for, Jack is no longer even in attendance. Instead, he's out putting his personal interests at stake for Roberta.
"Havana" was Robert Redford's and director Sydney Pollack's seventh cooperation after "This Property Is Condemned" (1966), "Jeremiah Johnson" (1972), "The Way We Were" (1973), "Three Days of the Condor" (1975), "The Electric Horseman" (1979) and "Out of Africa" (1985); and it shows, for better and for worse. At his best, Redford delivers magically, whether dealing cards at a poker table surrounded by marks and beautiful women, or arguing with Roberta about her stake in the revolution, or letting her captured husband know how he has enjoyed being with Roberta; realizing jealousy's potency in stirring a betrayed, hot-blooded husband's fighting spirit, after Jack has decided, against all self-interest, to free and reunite him with her. But there are those few occasional lines, those few mannerisms that smack of just a pinch too much routine; and why an exchange like "Were you waiting for me?" - "All my life" didn't make Redford's and Pollack's usually unfailing kitsch-o-meters go into overtilt, I honestly don't understand. (Besides, whoever had the brilliant idea of making Redford wear a Hawaii shirt in the closing scene should be flogged and hung out to dry in a Hawaii shirt himself. Eeeewwww ...)
Undeservedly, "Havana" flopped at the box office and only later began picking up audience favors. This is primarily blamed on its unfair (and shallow) initial comparison to "Casablanca," which I don't think it ever set out to replicate; in addition to its somewhat two-dimensional political outlook (and here I agree). Redford himself has also been quoted commenting on his suddenly prominent facial lines, an effect only underscored by the fact that he had last been seen on the big screen four years earlier in "Legal Eagles" with decidedly lesser visible lines. But come on, folks - the man was over fifty when he made "Havana" ... have you ever wondered to what extent you've internalized Hollywood's youth addiction if you did *not* expect his age to start showing at some point? Frankly, I rather think it's admirable if an actor whose looks have always factored highly in his appeal makes a point in going against the expectation that he submit to plastic surgery, *and* then continues to make his mark on society and the movie business regardless.
So forget "Havana"'s bad rep. This is a beautifully shot, superbly edited, sumptuous drama (a particular delight editing-wise are the scenes setting Jack's forays into Havana's night life against the city's less glamorous realities); part romance, part political thriller; magnificently scored by Dave Grusin and endowed with all of Pollack's and production designer Terence Marsh's known attention to detail, whose authenticity even "spooked" Cuban-born Tomas Milian, (who plays secret police commander Menocal), as Milian says in the DVD's featurette - and this although for obvious reasons the entire set had to be reconstructed in the Dominican Republic. It may not be one of the multiple Oscar-winning Redford-Pollack collaborations ... but overall it's still head and shoulders above many another production I'll refrain from naming here.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews