Monday, October 10, 2016


George Peppard climbs up soaking wet to the highway from a wrecked car; he has amnesia so he just keeps walking until he comes to a bar where people seem to know him—and they don't especially like him. Turns out he's a playboy-type (even though he's married to Elizabeth Ashley), son of a rich but dying father (Herbert Marshall). The family is particularly disliked right now because Peppard's brother-in-law (Roddy McDowell) is pushing to sell the family factory, which would throw many townspeople out of work. The pianist at the bar (Arte Johnson) seems to loathe Peppard; we soon find out that Peppard was having an affair with his wife (Sally Kellerman). Even worse, when the police find Peppard's car in the river, they find the dead body of Kellerman and want to charge him with murder. Of course, the amnesiac Peppard is a nicer guy than the playboy Peppard, but can he patch things up with his wife, stop the sale of the factory, and get out of the murder charge?

This is not the most original plotline and it becomes predictable pretty quickly, but the movie is generally entertaining—if you can buy the "amnesia change" aspect of the story, which is a tried and true plot device in literature and movies. The young and handsome Peppard (pushing 40 but looking younger) does a nice job in the lead role, managing to convey a certain personality emptiness without coming off as vacuous. Ashley—his wife in real life at the time—has to work with a character that is not well-rounded and so doesn't make  much of an impression. Better are the nasty, brittle Roddy McDowell (gay subtext, of course) and the nastier Arte Johnson, who banishes all thoughts of his comic character on Laugh-In. A strong supporting cast helps: Mona Washbourne as Peppard's aunt, Robert Webber as a cop, and Arthur O'Connell as a doctor. This was Herbert Marshall's last film—he died a year later—and he plays an uncommunicative stroke victim whom McDowell is trying to get around in order to sell the factory. Funniest (unintentionally) line: a rider showing off says about his horse, "Watch me put the wench through her paces—she’s all woman!" Style-wise, it's shot like a TV movie but the widescreen angles are often filled with nice background detail. [DVD]

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