Fred Myrow's music score is the first thing that jumps out, seeing the movie again after a gap of, oh, twenty years or so. It really is one of the best scores of the seventies and does its job of scene-setting and world-building beautifully. Coupled with the still-powerful photomontage intro to the world of the year 2022 (three years after Blade Runner, funnily enough)it drops us right into the story with maximum eloquence and minimum fuss, where (as in the aforementioned Blade Runner) we meet a policeman in a dystopian world who has a case to solve, a mystery to unravel and certain truths to uncover.
Charlton Heston is the policeman and there's something very powerful and affecting about watching so monumentally physically present an actor grappling with, and falling before, the unblinking "it" of the mystery he pits himself against. Yes, we all know what that mystery is concealing at this stage, but let's not spoil it for any first-time viewers.
Edward G Robinson is Heston's room-mate and only friend, an older man from a dead age. The scenes between the two are abolutely lovely. There's real affection here, but it's quietly expressed. Remember film acting before Robert De Niro started squinting and Al Pacino started shouting? Remember when the character was more important than the star turn or the persona of the star?
Robinson and Leigh Taylor-Young embody the remnants of a human, humane world. But one of them is dying and the other is only of value in this world of 2022 as "furniture"- a sex object included in the rental price of a flashy apartment. Joseph Cotten and Chuck Connors are the men who thrive in this world. But one of them is literally killed by the truth of what it takes to succeed here, and the other is more than halfway to becoming a flesh-and-blood pre-echo of The Terminator.
A late classic from Richard Fleischer. Give it another look.
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