"You're a good-lookin' guy Charlie, but you're always going to look like a
So Charlie Valentine summarizes himself to his mirror image, but the description
might just as accurately apply to the actor who plays Charlie, Raymond J. Barry.
There is nothing in Barry's manner that suggests a movie gangster. He got his
undergraduate degree in philosophy at Brown University, then went on to study at
Yale. He supported himself as an English instructor at a private academy while
he struggled to establish his acting career. He's soft-spoken and his diction is
impeccable. Those are not exactly tough-guy credentials.
And yet there's that face. The face of a gangster.
Or maybe a general, or a cop, or a mad man. Somebody tough.
You say you don't know who Raymond J. Barry is? Yeah, I know you don't know his
name, but you do know who he is. He's this guy:
A young Raymond J. Barry may have dreamt of playing Hamlet or Dorian Gray, but
that was never in the cards. That face was just not destined to take any work from
Colin Firth or Kenneth Branagh, so Barry learned to make a living by using his
mien to create a different kind of tough guy - not the Scarface kind of bad-ass
braggart, but the quiet menacing type who keeps his counsel until someone needs
That's the kind of guy Charlie Valentine is. He's 70-something, and he's made a
lot of money in the life, but he's pissed it all away on top-shelf booze,
gourmet food, and
expensive women with hard bodies and soft beds. Having lived his life outside of
the Social Security network, and with gangster pensions being non-existent,
Charlie is old and broke. He needs a score. He goes for it by using inside
knowledge to hit some fellow mobsters. It goes bad, and he
is identified, so he has to flee from some fellows who are just not very nice at
all. Needing to get off the grid, Charlie ends up hiding out in the apartment of
his son whom nobody knows about, and who doesn't really know Charlie. Of course,
Charlie is still broke and still needs a score, so his son becomes his partner.
You need to discover the rest of the plot on your own, but it wouldn't really
matter if I told you the details, because the plot is predictable and the movie
isn't about the plot anyway. It isn't about action either. It's really a serious
drama disguised as a crime story, like one of those old black-and-white shows
from the live TV era. Think "Requiem for a Heavyweight," except in color and
with more explicit violence. This low-budget film is not a masterpiece, but it
works, and what makes it work is its character development, plus the consistent
tone and atmosphere that transports us to the filth-strewn back alleys, the
underground gyms, the after-hours strip clubs, and the other ugly places where
weary crooks plan desperate heists and hard men drink hard booze until violence