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Sunday, June 14, 2015

"Cinderella Liberty" (1973)

The New Hollywood cinema of the late 1960's and '70's brought profound change to the high gloss perfectionism of the golden studio era that preceded it. The storytelling became grittier, more frank, closer to the honest messiness of real life. Language, sex, race, violence, were all depicted with a new openness. To wit, this small character study was the second adaptation of a Darryl Ponicson novel, the first being the highly successful "The Last Detail" with Jack Nicholson the year before. James Caan is an amiable sailor on shore leave in Seattle. He gets stuck in the town because the Navy has lost his papers, he's free to go as he pleases as long as he's back everyday by midnight (hence the title nickname given this kind of leave). He shacks up with a pool hustling hooker (Marsha Mason) who turns tricks in her fleabag hotel room. Her nine year old half black son sleeps on the couch in the other room while mom takes care of business. How's that for sordid realness? Caan and Mason have fine chemistry as they try to figure out what each of the want out of this tempestuous relationship. If the ending gets a little too pat and heartwarming, all's fine since you've come to care for these little people trying to eek out a life in the big bad world. Some fine atmospheric photography but Vilmos Zsigmond and contemporary score by John Williams add additional interest. There's even a love song penned by Paul Williams sung over a happy montage, what more do you need?

 

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