Film Review: THE OLD MAN & THE GUN (USA 2018) ***1/2 Review:

The Old Man & the Gun Poster

Based on the true story of Forrest Tucker and his audacious escape from San Quentin at the age of 70 to an unprecedented string of heists that confounded authorities and enchanted the public.


David Lowery


David LoweryDavid Grann (based on the article by)

THE OLD MAN & THE GUN is a seniors film for sure from its subject, setting, protagonists and even in pacing.  One will definitely notice the film’s slow pacing but don’t let the slowness fool you.  The script, based on David Grann’s 2003 article in The New Yorker titled “The Old Man and the Gun” contains a lot of details that could easily be overlooked.  The film is in many ways a clever one with more insight uncovered if (the film) discussed later.  Director Lowery’s excuse for his film being slow is echoed by the words of Robert Redford in the film’s opening cafe scene; “It is my style.”

The film is based on the true story (or mostly true as the opening credits boast) of career criminal, prison-escape artist, and amicable bank robber Forrest Tucker (Robert Redford).   The film opens with one of his successful bank hold-ups.

Having first been put away at age 15, Forrest had spent much of his life in jail and much of his energy breaking out – he successfully escaped incarceration 18 times. Forrest is, in the film in his seventies, free, and living in a retirement community, yet he cannot resist the lure of another bank heist.  He assembles a gang (the cops nickname ‘the over-the-hillers’) who, though armed, rely mainly on creativity and charisma to claim their loot.  They are pursued by Detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck), whose official duty is galvanized by the purity of his love for the chase.  The film’s setting is 1981 with Forrest still robbing banks.

For reason of not revealing any of the film’s spoilers which will certainly  diminish the film’s entertainment, the key plot points will not be mentioned in this review and so naturally, a lot of the script’s brilliance cannot be detailed.  So, take it with some faith that there are a few bouts of brilliant in the script.

It is one thing to make a film politically correct but to have Detective John’s wife as a black played by Tika Sumpter is going a bit overboard.  I doubt that this was the case in real life.

But THE OLD MAN & THE GUN is not really about cops and robbers, bank robberies or prison escapes.  It is about life and and what one does with ones life.  The film’s message is to ” Keep on and keep keeping on…” which in the case of Forrest is to keep robbing banks.  It is a universal message that results in this seniors film also having a universal appeal.  Robbing banks is in Forrest’s blood and he cannot change it.  When he is imprisoned, Forrest’s newest love interest Jewel (Sissy Spacek) convinces him finally to say put and not plan an escape.  This he does but to completely change his nature of robbing banks is an impossibility with him.  As the song goes in the 80’s hit tune that is played in the film – The Kink’s “Lola”, Well that’s the way that I want it to stay and I always want it to be that way – for my Lola.

This film has been reported to be Robert Redford’s last acting role and the film is a slow but well-thought out and executed entertainer!


1967 Movie Review: BAREFOOT IN THE PARK, 1967

Movie Reviews

directed by Gene Saks

Starring: Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, Mildred Natwick, Charles Boyer
Review by Virginia DeWitt

Paul and Corie Bratter are newlyweds in mid-’60s New York, who have just moved into a walk up in Greenwich Village and are trying to cope with all the problems that come with living in an old building in New York City, including the eccentric neighbors. Their biggest problem, though, is their distinctly different outlooks on life. Paul is a buttoned down attorney who insists that every problem must have a logical solution. Corie is a free spirit who insists that Paul has to learn to walk “barefoot in the park”.


“Barefoot In The Park” was the first Neil Simon play to be made into a movie. It was a major success on Broadway in 1963 and Simon adapted the play for the screen himself. He worked with Gene Saks, who was better known as a television actor, and who made his feature film debut as a director with “Barefoot”. Saks would go on to direct other Simon adaptations such as “The Odd Couple” (1968), “The Last of the Red Hot Lovers” (1972) and “Brighton Beach Memoirs” (1986). Saks’ television background shows through in this film. His direction of the actors and the staging of the action are straightforward, with nothing original added to the concept of a filmed play. The look of the movie, its use of colour and lighting, is just marginally better than a TV show of the era.

 Saks is good at directing his actors for comedy, however. Pacing and timing is everything in delivering Simon’s dialogue. The repartee requires rapid fire delivery because, funny and sharp as he is, Simon’s effects are all on the surface. This exchange between Paul and Corie is a good example, beginning with Paul saying to her:

“You want me to be rich and famous don’t you?”

“During the day. At night, I want you here and sexy.

“I tell you what, tomorrow night – your night – we’ll do whatever you want.”

“Something wild and crazy and insane?”


“Like what?”

“I’ll come home early. We’ll wallpaper each other.”

Or, a later argument where Corie gets to air her feelings about Paul’s inability to loosen up:

“You’re always dressed right. You always look right. You always say the right thing. You’re very nearly perfect!”

“That’s a rotten thing to say.”

“Before we were married I thought you slept with a tie.”

“No, just for very formal sleeps.”

Over forty years later, the film still works well and it is largely due to the terrific chemistry between its two stars. A very young Robert Redford and Jane Fonda each exhibit a wonderful naturalness in their performances. Given their later, much more serious work, both Redford and Fonda are surprisingly funny and relaxed here and their handling of the verbal and physical comedy is expert. Redford makes the uptight, anxiety ridden Paul sympathetic. In the early scenes where he spars with Corie, his exasperated reactions to her often impossible demands are perfect. In the final scenes, where he is drunk and wandering barefoot through Washington Square Park, Redford matches Fonda’s earlier exuberance with ease. For her part, Fonda is fun, sexy and spontaneous as Corie. She makes Corie’s capriciousness and emotional immaturity attractive, which is no small feat.

The cast is completed by two well known character actors. Charles Boyer, a big star in an earlier era of the movies, makes for a charming eccentric as the upstairs neighbour, Victor Velasco. Mildred Natwick, as Ethel Banks, is endearing as Corie’s slightly confused mother, subject to the same kinds of anxieties which Paul suffers from. In fact, in the scene that is the centre piece of the film – a double date at an Albanian restaurant – Simon gets a lot mileage, and laughs, from pairing off Paul with his middle aged mother-in-law. Paul, born middle aged, and Ethel commiserate with each other over the crazy night they have had to endure at the hands of Corie and Victor, both maddening in their unpredictability. Nothing comes from any of this, of course, as the couples inevitably realign, each paired off appropriately and happily once again.

“Barefoot In The Park” is still a fun movie largely due to the highly successful casting of its two young stars and Neil Simon’s writing, which is both light hearted and sharp at the same time.


Happy Birthday (August 18th) – Actor Robert Redford (The String, All the President’s Men)

robertredford.jpgRobert Redford

Born: August 18, 1936 in Santa Monica, California, USA

Married to: Sibylle Szaggars (11 July 2009 – present)
Lola Van Wagenen (12 September 1958 – 12 November 1985) (divorced) (4 children)

Turned down the leading roles in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), The Graduate (1967), Rosemary’s Baby (1968), Love Story (1970) and The Day of the Jackal (1973).

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