Peter Catesby Peter Cates


Al Pacino

Hangman is a 2017 thriller dealing with a serial killer on the loose in the fictitious city of Monroe, Georgia. The psycho also dispatches each of his victims according to a children’s game called Hangman, hence the title.

The movie is also a piece of junk in terms of all the clichés of this genre which need not be gone into.

But I mention the film because of the outstanding performances of a few of the cast members. First Al Pacino portrays the retired police Detective Ray Archer who is spending his days observing the comings and goings on one street corner in an inevitably restless state of mind. Like his longtime pal Robert De Niro, Pacino conveys extraordinary emotion just sitting and observing. And his delivery of lines give pleasure, despite the terrible script.

I first saw Karl Urban in the 2009 CIA comedy thriller Red as a misinformed Agency operative trying his darnedest to kill former agents Bruce Willis, John Malkovich and Morgan Freeman, and his contribution was quite stiff and unimaginative..

Here he portrays Detective Ruiney, who’s a friend and former colleague of Detective Archer. One finds out that Ruiney’s wife was murdered by the serial killer, that Archer had introduced the pair to each other so that Ruiney is now unofficially consulting with Archer on investigative details.

Urban’s characterization of Ruiney is commendable. One sees a man emotionally broken by the loss of his wife and the agonizing frustration of not finding the killer after a lapse of several years. This actor has obviously developed further in his ability to act.

Britanny Snow

A young actress Brittany Snow, whose name is new to me, gave a galvanizing performance as a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Christi Davies, who is allowed under very strict guidelines to ride along with Ruiney on his dangerous rounds. Davies also has her own fears and vulnerabilities from what she has seen previously and Actress Snow conveys them eloquently.

Sarah Shahi

Finally another previously unfamiliar name, Sarah Shahi, delivers a blistering performance as Police Captain Lisa Watson who is confined to a wheelchair because of a drunk driver running her off the road. She conveys authoritative force as the Boss, but also an endearing sympathy when Archer, Ruiney and Davies put themselves in harm’s way tracking the killer as his victims increase.

Again the script is lousy, the pacing stinks, the ending is hokey but these four individuals did give their all to an otherwise hopeless dud.

Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme

Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme

The late great married and immensely gifted singing couple Steve Lawrence (1935-2024) and Eydie Gorme (1928-2013) recorded a seven-inch 45 (Columbia 4-42815) in 1963 featuring two throwaway novelty songs – Ain’t Love; and I Want to Stay Here, itself by the songwriting team of Gerry Goffin and his ex-wife Carole King; here they transformed these trivial tunes into little gems and were in turn assisted by the very underrated arranger/conductor Marion Evans. I have noticed time and again that his name on any record means quality listening, whatever the previous calibre of the singer.

And both sides are on YouTube.

Jack Warner

Jack Warner

According to his 1964 autobiography My First Hundred Years in Hollywood, studio boss Jack Warner (1892-1978) recounts a 1958 automobile accident near the Cannes Film Fes­tival in which he was reported by newspapers as dead. In fact he begins this book with an account of his death instead of with the usual account of a birth opening most memoirs.

Warner also commented sardonically- “I never want to see that deadly place again. They tell me I should.”


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