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A New York night in 1953. Fans crowd the sidewalks and the famous hide out bars. Four 20th Century icons, Albert Einstein (Michael Emil), Marilyn Monroe (Theresa Russell), Joe Dimaggio (Gary Busey) and Senator Joseph McCarthy (Tony Curtis) are dropped into a melting pot of the sexual and the cerebral. Monroe courts Einstein with demands for intellectual - and physical - nourishment the day before the physicist is to deliver a lecture about the evils of atomic technology. But with the right wing McCarthy attempting to roadblock the left leaning professor and Dimaggio furious after finding Einstein and Monroe in bed, it's like a mini atomic explosion right there in the hotel suite.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
This audacious hypothetical is at once funny and dramatic, sometimes a little lopsided but always interesting. Nicolas Roeg is incapable of making a boring film (he made Walkabout [1971] in Australia and followed it up with Don't Look Now [1973] one of the best psycho thrillers ever made, in Venice) and this tour de force was rightly a contender for the 1975 Palm d'Or at Cannes.

Terry Johnson's screenplay is a wild ride, throwing risky ideas into a tumultuous scenario that has the baseball player, the actress and the physicist meet in a hotel room under intense pressure. And then along comes the Senator. . . Sex, physics, sport, politics and the multiplicity of human weaknesses all collide in a perfect storm of emotion and reason. Flashes of flashbacks that appear as memory fragments, add teasing layers to the key characters. The atom bomb (Hiroshima and Nagasaki still a fresh memory in 1953, the year the film set) plays a key role as one of the professor's demons, but whether this is the key to the film's conceit is questionable.

Theresa Russell is magnificent as Monroe in a portrayal that is surprisingly effective, as are Michael Emil's re-imagined Einstein and Gary Busey's bombastic Dimaggio. Tony Curtis is great as the hard nosed politician with a fixed agenda, and there is a lovely cameo by the very tall Will Sampson as the self-exiled Cherokee lift attendant.

Thought provoking as it is, the meaning or meanings are elusive; but it's a great showcase for the cast.

Published October 30, 2008

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(US, 1985)

CAST: Tony Curtis, Theresa Russell, Gary Busey, Michael Emil, Will Sampson

PRODUCER: Jeremy Thomas

DIRECTOR: Nicolas Roeg

SCRIPT: Terry Johnson (play by Johnson)


EDITOR: Tony Lawson

MUSIC: Stanely Myers

PRODUCTION DESIGN: David Brocklehurst

RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes

PRESENTATION: 4:3 (1.33:1 original); DD 2.0



DVD RELEASE: September 2, 2008

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