Tuesday, November 06, 2007

George Segal: Secretly Canadian

I need to get my hands on a Canadian thriller called Russian Roulette (1975) - directed by veteran editor Lou Lombardo who, judging from his work on The Wild Bunch, must know his way around an action scene. Set in Vancouver, this one stars the underrated George Segal as a burned-out undercover Mountie (sic) who stumbles across a plot to assassinate the visiting Soviet Premier.

When I was a kid I was a bit obsessed with two 1977 George Segal movies - his Sensurround™ enhanced, quasi-disaster film Rollercoaster (a worn-out cop playing cat-and-mouse with an amusement park bomber played by future George W. Bush look-alike Timothy Bottoms) and Fun With Dick And Jane, the broad satire of the middle-class seventies American dream (written by Mordecai Richler) with Jane Fonda and Ed McMahon (sic). Segal was as much of a ubiquitous male lead in seventies American cinema as Donald Sutherland or Elliott Gould (Segal was even in Altman's California Split), but his skill with both comedy and drama may have led to his eventual marginalization as a leading man as the seventies wound down; that and some bad career decisions (turning down the lead in Blake Edwards' 10, for example) led to a future plucking the banjo on Johnny Carson's couch while promoting TV movies like The Zany Adventures of Robin Hood co-starring Morgan Fairchild (sic). Yes, it had come to this.

Roulette is an British-Canadian co-production apparently loaded with quirks and stuffed with weird casting, including Denholm Elliott as a 'greasy informant' as one review has it, and Louise Fletcher, just off her Oscar-winning role in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, in a bit part as a telephone operator. Plus a rooftop climax involving high-powered sniper rifles, helicopters and a seventies Vancouver skyline - damn, this thing has got to pay off!

This might wet your whistle for international intrigue involving George Segal before you track Roulette down - the stylish trailer for the trippy 1966 cold war thriller The Quiller Memorandum - directed by Michael (Logan's Run) Anderson!

1 comment:

Michael said...

Hey! George Sanders is in that Quiller piece! So, I'll have to see it one day. And who is the guy who gets it in the phone booth? I know him as a meanie in something else.