[box cover]

The MacKintosh Man

Even at his worst, John Huston always offered his films a professional gloss. Disparaged by the likes of film critic Andrew Sarris as being less than meets the eye, Huston's reputation has been sullied, in particular for his work as a director-for-hire — something he'd surely admit (Annie anyone?) And yet, while many directors have hot streaks, Huston managed to make a great film every decade he made movies, from the 1940s (with The Maltese Falcon and Treasure of the Sierra Madre topping the list) through the '80s (Prizzi's Honor and The Dead, which was canonized by Paul Schrader). The MacKintosh Man (1973) was the valley between two high points — Fat City (1972) and The Man Who Would be King (1975) — and, as such, decidedly an in-betweener. Paul Newman stars as Joseph Reardon, a British agent who steals some diamonds under the orders of MacKintosh (Harry Andrews). He ends up in jail, where he's offered an escape route with the likes of Slade (Ian Bannen), a political prisoner. Things get complicated when the people who bust him out become curious about his real intentions. It turns out that politician Sir George Wheeler (James Mason) is behind Slade's escape and the car that hits MacKintosh. The only person on Reardon's side is Mrs. Smith (Dominique Sanda), who not only has affections for Reardon, but who also says she's Mackintosh's daughter. Adapted by Walter Hill (The Warriors) from Desmond Bagley's novel, The MacKintosh Man is curiously mute in a post-Bond universe. Sequences that could sing with tension and excitement are done in perfunctory fashion, and the movie doesn't benefit from any sort of Hitchcockian suspense nor a greater sense of a world view being espoused. It seems that Huston, re-teaming with Paul Newman (after The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean), saw a popular novel and adapted it without finding a great way to stage the material, just as Ron Howard did with The Da Vinci Code (2006). The film plays more like an adaptation of a Cliff's Notes summary — and since the novel has fallen into obscurity, the picture can't seem to sustain itself without a popular awareness to fill in the gaps. But Huston can be counted on for his professionalism, and he delivers the film in a tight package (or that is to say, at least it's short), and there's a nice chase along the Irish countryside. Warner Brothers presents The MacKintosh Man, part of "The Paul Newman Collection," in a good anamorphic transfer (1.78:1) with DD 1.0 audio. Extras include the period featurette "John Huston — The Man, The Myth, the Filmmaker" (10 min.) and the theatrical trailer. Slimcase in the box-set.

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