My chum Tim and I watch a film every week, taking it in turns to pick. The only catch? Each film has to be linked to the previous one by a shared actor. We’re on the hunt for classics we’ve missed, hidden gems and films to reappraise now we’re, uh, getting older.
I tried to keep my general disdain for boxing at bay for Somebody Up There Likes Me.
With the ball back in Tim’s court, would we finally leave Paul Newman season behind? Steve McQueen appeared briefly in Somebody Up There Likes Me, and I have seen very few McQueen films. Not even The Great Escape, believe it or not. Sal Mineo was great last week too. He died tragically young in what was thought to be a botched robbery, and I’d be very keen to tackle a season of his work. Plus there’s the long mooted Color of Money which we’ve been planning to end Newman season on for weeks.
Bearing all that in mind, Tim picked… Where The Money Is, a thriller from 2000 starring Paul Newman and Linda Fiorentino.
Where The Money Is and me
Neeeeeever heard of it. The only things I knew going in were that it starred Paul n’ Linda, an has an eminently forgettable title.
Linda Fiorentino. That’s not a name you hear much these days. A quick google tells me that her last role was in 2009 in a direct to video movie. In fact, since Where The Money Is she is only credited in two things, both DTV. I recall hearing the scuttlebutt that she was ‘difficult’ to work with, but since the Weinstein (and others) revelations it’s become apparent that ‘difficult’ is frequently code for something else. I don’t know if that’s the case here or not, or possibly like Ken Wahl (who we saw in Fort Apache, The Bronx) she simply decided that the business wasn’t good for her. Or something else entirely.
Whatever it is, this film marks Linda Fiorentino’s last theatrically released film to date and so is interesting purely from that point of view. It also happens to be Paul Newman’s penultimate appearance on cinema screens. Last week we saw his second appearance, now we’re seeing his second to last.
Where The Money Is (2000): Old bank robber Henry, paralyzed from a stroke, is moved from a prison hospital to a retirement home, where Carol is a nurse. She doesn’t believe he’s paralyzed and sees him as a way out of her boring life. 6.2 stars.
The main duo in this, Paul Newman’s Henry and Linda Fiorentino’s Carol, are joined by Dermot Mulroney – the first time he’s made an appearance in CRFC. It made me wonder if there are people who consider themselves fans of Dermot. I’m sure there must be, everyone’s taste is different and special etc etc etc, but I just find it very hard to imagine. To clarify, I don’t mean that he was bad in this, or is bad in general. This isn’t another Jonathan Rhys Meyers situation. He’s just… terribly uninteresting.
The reason I’m starting with that is because this entire film is almost a Dermot Mulroney. It oozes bland late-90s aesthetic out of every frame. The plot is slightly undercooked, and despite threatening the occasional interesting avenue of digression manages to stay blinkered on its path. Henry is indeed faking his paralysis (shock!) to try and collect the money his late partner left for him. Nurse Carol is intrigued and looking for excitement. Her boyfriend Wayne (Henry, Carol and Wayne? Even the names are bland!) is a bit of a jerk. Or is he just not in love with her any more? Either way, when he discovers Carol and Henry are planning a heist he mystifyingly goes along with it because the film has steamrollered him entirely with its blandness.
But it’s not quite a Dermot Mulroney of a film. And the reason for that is because Paul Newman and Linda Fiorentino are both really good. They don’t elevate this to anything special; it’s not a classic Paul Newman performance for the ages. But they’re both so entirely watchable that the whole thing is enjoyably mediocre rather than crushingly so.
The film was a box office failure, which isn’t a great surprise. I mentioned that it feels very late 90s, and I think even in 2000 it would have felt a little dated – it doesn’t have (for better or worse) the zip and zing that heist films developed post-Tarantino.
It doesn’t ever get particularly tense or exciting. It just plods along doing its bland thing, leaving Paul Newman and Linda Fiorentino’s magnetism to do all the work.
After we finished the film, Tim and I had to have a bit of a google to work out the difference between Dermot Mulroney, Dylan McDermot and Dougray Scott. I imagine in a month or so I’ll have to google this film to work out the difference between it and various other late 90s/early noughties thrillers.
So far this year we have only watched films starring Paul Newman or Robert Redford. Allowing for few fallow weeks we’ll probably tackle seven more films before 2020… So it seems a mite churlish to break away from Newman before then.