Elaine May's 1976 film, dumped by Paramount on first release, is one of the most innovative, engaging, and insightful films of that turbulent era of American moviemaking. John Cassavetes is a small-time hood on the run from a powerful syndicate boss; he calls on boyhood friend Peter Falk to help him in his hour of need, but he can't be sure of his loyalties—Falk works for the same outfit. May allows the improvisational rhythms of her actors to establish the surface realism of the film, but beneath the surface lies a tight, poetically stylized screenplay that leads the two characters, as they pass a fearful, frenzied night together, back over the range of their lives, from infancy to adulthood. At every step May tests the two men's affection against the conflicting demands of making a living and finding a measure of security in a brutal, unstable world; what emerges is a profound, unsentimental portrait of male friendship—and of its ultimate impossibility. With Ned Beatty, Rose Arrick, Carol Grace, and Joyce Van Patten.
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