The Last Run (1971)

Genres - Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Drama  |   Release Date - Jul 7, 1971 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 99 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Nathan Southern

This road picture endured a notoriously troubled production. John Huston briefly occupied the director's chair, and apparently spent the whole time in screaming matches with star George C. Scott over disagreements about the content; John Boorman was attached at one point, as well. As directed by Richard Fleischer, the final version isn't maladroit as one might expect from its history - the story remains coherent, and the footage seamless. And it's magisterially shot by the great Sven Nykvist. But a hollowness lingers at its core. Because we share the perspective of the lead character, "getaway driver" Harry Garmes (Scott), and he's left in the dark about the details surrounding the passengers he's transporting (Tony Musante and Trish Van Devere), we also feel detached from the goings-on, to an ill-advised degree. A few admirers of the picture cited this as a strength - an existentialist quality that gives the film a certain profundity. But that's poppycock - a pretentious excuse for lack of substance. Another issue is that we keep seeing potentially fascinating narrative threads, such as a hint of betrayal on the part of Van Devere's character, that crop up and then disappear, unexplored and unresolved. And it's entirely the fault of Alan Sharp's poor script, that doesn't bother to flesh out or sustain many of the intriguing substories at which it hints. (The"chic" downbeat ending doesn't help either). What can be said of The Last Run, to its credit, is that the three leads deliver uniformly wonderful performances (especially as an ensemble) and succeed at making us care for their characters. They also bring to the material far more depth and dimension than it deserves - to such a degree that The Last Run almost merits a recommendation as a night owl cable offering, even as it dissatisfies on several fundamental levels. In any case, the most interesting aspects of this picture may have happened off-camera. At about the same time as the production, Scott began to experience significant marital issues with co-star and real-life wife Colleen Dewhurst. Meanwhile, Scott and Van Devere met on the set of this film, fell deeply in love, and married not long after. Perhaps that explains why their romantic chemistry is far and away the most persuasive element of the movie. Between those off-camera dynamics, and the stories of Scott and Huston at one another's throats, one only wishes that someone had shot a behind-the-scenes documentary. It probably would have made a far more interesting picture.