The Big Brass Ring (1999) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
can't really recommend it because of the talky, actionless pacing, but
I really liked this film about a presidential aspirant who is an
intelligent and honorable man with a dark secret. Very dark. Career
destroying. The secret is a mystery, and there are some good twists
and turns getting there, and after you know what the secret is, the
new mystery is whether it will get revealed or not.
But the mystery is not why I really liked the movie. I guess it was primarily because it was so damned literate. How many movies are made today where the lead characters quote Twain and Proust and Abe Lincoln, not in prepared speeches, but in pillow talk!
If you are a fan of action movies this movie isn't really for you. You may also want to skip it if you insist on gritty, realistic dialogue.
|It's basically a turn-of-the-previous-century symbolist work updated to the year 2000. Nobody really talks like the characters in this movie, just as nobody talks like the characters in Hamlet or Murder in the Cathedral. Normal people don't have secrets this dark and convoluted. In addition, the story is filled with visual symbolism, some of it not so subtle. There is a carousel with an actual brass ring. There is a guy with a monkey on his back who actually has a monkey on his back. (A little heavy-handed, that one). And there are people with secrets who are wearing masks.||
|Orson Welles wrote the first draft of this screenplay, intending to star his buddy Lawrence Harvey, but they both passed away before anything came of it. When the script was finally greenlighted, the Welles script was updated a bit. For example, things that would have destroyed a political aspirant in 1974 (a mistress) were no longer career-destroying in 1999, so they had deepen and darken the secret.|
| One of the reviewers linked below said it wasn't really in the
style of Welles, but I disagree, at least partially. It isn't a pure
Welles movie, but it has many Wellesian elements. The filming of one
of Hurt's speeches, in front of his own poster, was practically lifted
from Citizen Kane. The carousel music was right out of "Touch of
Evil", and the use of the St Louis arch in one scene reminded me
so much of the camera set-ups used by Welles in the final scene of
Touch of Evil (in the oil field), with the arch substituting for the
It was probably wise of the director to minimize the Wellesian influence. I have to admit that the homages to Welles' style seem gothic and dated in today's context.
Oh, yeah, and I've decided that Irene Jacob is going to be my next wife. Boy, does she look good naked. Unfortunately, because of the poor audio on this DVD and Jacob's accent, there were times when I had no idea what she was saying, but I just didn't care. She is essentially playing Christianne Amanpour, except with a different name and no grasp of the English language.
|Tuna's comments in yellow:
The screenplay was an adaptation of an
Orson Welles script. It was moved from Africa and the distant past to a
Missouri governor's race at the turn of the century. Two independent
candidates are battling it out. One of them has a secret that could cost
him the election, and it looks like it will become public when the man
who raised him surfaces from obscurity, since the guardian also
participated in the event that must remain secret.
Scoopy wrote that it was talky and had no pace, but that he liked it because it was so literate. For me, they created a would-be masterpiece that is a long, boring watch. I don't necessarily need pace in a story, but, absent pace, I need to be able to relate strongly to one of the characters, and found nobody in the film to supply that need.
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