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A Movie A Day: PARTNERS (1982)
You don’t want to work with Kerwin because you’re scared. He’s gay. He might rape you.

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day. [For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.] John Hurt bridges us from yesterday’s bizarre slice of ‘70s fairy tale THE PIED PIPER to today’s early ‘80s buddy cop comedy PARTNERS. Don’t go! I know, I saw the cover, too, and almost didn’t put it on the queue. Ultimately, the name of John Hurt kept it on the list. I didn’t read the back cover or look up a plot synopsis until I threw it in the DVD player and checked the runtime. (BTW a note to Legend Pictures: Please, in the future, don’t put a picture of one of your two leads lying on the ground with a giant bullet-hole in their stomach on the back of the goddamn DVD). Even then I didn’t read the text, just glanced at the pictures and the DVD information. So I had no idea that this movie was set in the gay community… or rather the stereotypical gay community of the early ‘80s. You have gay models being murdered, one of whom is the son of a prominent newspaper man, so suddenly the cops are being pressured to investigate, which is kind of shitty anyway. They don’t give a crap about the gay community until it affects them. The Chief (played by great ‘70s and ‘80s character actor Kenneth McMillan, who you’ll remember as playing either a chief or sheriff in ARMED AND DANGEROUS and SALEMS LOT as well as the Baron in DUNE) forms an unlikely partnership with a semi-closeted gay desk jockey (Hurt) and ladykilling Detective (Ryan O’Neal). There were buddy cop movies before this film (including one of my favorite of all time, FREEBIE & THE BEAN, still not out on DVD), but I find it interesting that this one hit just before 48 HOURS kicked off one of the biggest sub-genres of the ‘80s that resulted in the LEATHAL WEAPON and BEVERLY HILLS COP franchises. And this movie isn’t half bad. I’d even go so far as to say I enjoyed it quite a bit, but maybe that had to do my expectation more than the quality of the film. I can’t really determine that until I rewatch it in a year or so. Sure, I get the feeling that this film will date like many of the racist cartoons and musicals of the ‘30s and ‘40s. The homosexual community represented here all fit into the same lisping, fey and/or mustached Village Person persona, but the overall message hopefully transcends that.

Hurt and O’Neal don’t make a bad comedic pair, actually. O’Neal’s definitely the straight man (in all ways) and homophobe who has to learn his life lesson by the end of the movie. It’s predictable, no doubt, but the movie actually makes you care about the two cops as they Odd Couple it, keeping their gay couple cover while investigating the murders. The actual cop aspect of it, the investigation, is convoluted and a bit on the convenient side, but that’s not the point of the movie. The crimes are all a backdrop for the central message of tolerance, which would come off as preachy if Hurt and O’Neal didn’t work so well together. Maybe the movie will play horribly for you having me say anything good about it in advance… maybe I liked it because it didn’t make me want to pop my eyeballs and shove pencils in my ears like I expected it to. Or maybe there is something to the movie that stands on its own. It’s certainly not as enjoyable as 48 HOURS or any of the other buddy cop movies I’ve mentioned in this installment of AMAD, but I found it surprisingly entertaining. I laughed constantly throughout, but I’m the first to admit that my comedy tastes are a little on the odd side. Some stupid shit makes me laugh, but I usually realize that I’m laughing at something I really shouldn’t be and I didn’t find that sensation here. The flick was directed by a guy named James Burrows who has a lot of credits, but a quick IMDB scan seems to reveal this is the only feature he ever directed. There’s not much style to the direction, but shit cut together and the actors do well, so I won’t give him any grief. The writer, interestingly enough, is Francis Veber, who also wrote the original La Cage aux folles (which was later remade as THE BIRDCAGE). Final Thoughts: My ‘80s nostalgia was in overdrive, seeing some great ‘80s faces listed above as well as Sydney Lassick (from ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST and ALIGATOR) in a formulaic buddy cop flick. I found some real laughs to be had as well as another great performance by John Hurt who somehow both plays into the gay stereotype and gives the character a few extra dimensions. So far this is the best of the Legend Films DVDs we’ve gone through.

The schedule for the next 7 days is: Monday, August 11th: BARRY LYNDON (1975) Tuesday, August 12th: THE SKULL (1965) Wednesday, August 13th: THE HELLFIRE CLUB (1961) Thursday, August 14th: BLOOD OF THE VAMPIRE (1963) Friday, August 15th: TERROR OF THE TONGS (1961) Saturday, August 16th: PIRATES OF BLOOD RIVER (1962) Sunday, August 17th: THE DEVIL-SHIP PIRATES (1964) -Quint

Previous Movies: June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
July 11th: The Matchmaker
July 12th: The Black Hole
July 13th: Vengeance Is Mine
July 14th: Strange Invaders
July 15th: Sleuth
July 16th: Frenzy
July 17th: Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut
July 18th: Cadillac Man
July 19th: The Sure Thing
July 20th: Moving Violations
July 21st: Meatballs
July 22nd: Cast a Giant Shadow
July 23rd: Out of the Past
July 24th: The Big Steal
July 25th: Where Danger Lives
July 26th: Crossfire
July 27th: Ricco, The Mean Machine
July 28th: In Harm’s Way
July 29th: Firecreek
July 30th: The Cheyenne Social Club
July 31st: The Man Who Knew Too Much
August 1st: The Spirit of St. Louis
August 2nd: Von Ryan’s Express
August 3rd: Can-Can
August 4th: Desperate Characters
August 5th: The Possession of Joel Delaney
August 6th: Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx
August 7th: Start the Revolution Without Me
August 8th: Hell Is A City
August 9th: The Pied Piper

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