Arthur Miller's play, Some Kind of Love Story, was a black comedy on the themes of fantasy and corruption played out over a film noir framework, exciting speculation as to how far marriage to Marilyn Monroe had been source material. Expanded into film, it's a tantalising, brave failure. Here, the central relationship between private investigator Tom O'Toole (Nolte), variously encouraged by femme fatale Angela Crispini (Winger) to dig into the false conviction of a lad for murder, is significantly altered. On stage, their relationship has been going on for years; but film being film and stasis meaning stalled, they've been issued with a beginning and an end. This weakens a symmetry of compromised interdependence between the lovers, and between cops, judges and crooks in society at large. Everywhere is Chinatown; the town could be Hammett's Poisonville, USA. The film also introduces a biker cult of a weirdness that at times touches Twin Peaks. With infinitely changeable Angela on the strength, and viewed by her amazingly credulous gumshoe, human behaviour is unfathomable enough already. He looks Amish and plays patsy for his Cleopatra, who turns in an outstanding performance despite a difficult script, while Karel Reisz negotiates most of the shoals like a master.
Cast and crew