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September 09, 1979 - Image 7

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-09-09

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

'Joe Tynan': Blind ambition

(Continued from Page 6)
necessary crux of any democratic
system. Yet the film runs aground not
through the overdoing of a point but
rather through the underdoing of
almost everything. The film pulls so
many punches thematically and
especially cinematically, that it ends up
landing kerplop in the category of a

shades-of-gray situation which
dominates true decision-making,
however cherished our total good vs.
total evil fantasies may be. Joe opposes
the judge out of conscience, yet he also
realizes pragmatically how his national
recognition will be boosted if he leads
the fight against the nomination. On the
other hand, Joe knows if he does this he

The film pulls so many punches thematically
and especially cinematically that it ends up lan-
ding kerplop in the category of a "small film,"
even though there seems little doubt that Alda's
conception was intended to be one of the more.
important films of recent times.'

"small film," though there seems little
doubt that Alda's conception (he wrote
the screenplay) was intended to be one
of the more important films of recent
times.
JOE TYNAN (Alda) is a liberal
Democratic senator from New York.
Both idealistic and ambitious, he is
clearly headed toward bigger political
stakes, an upward mobility he openly
courts. Yet fame andpower carry a
price: As he becomes more and more a
national alter ego, Joe runs the un-
disguised risk of alienating friends and
colleagues, of neglecting a wife and
family he dearly loves.
Joe walks a perpetual tightrope,
juggling morality and expediency on
the job and at home. When the
president nominates a racist judge for
the Supreme Court, Joe is faced with a
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will be traying the trust of an elderly,
increasingly senile senator and close
friend (Melvyn Douglas), who fears the
judge will defeat him in his upcoming
senate race if he doesn't make it on the
cout.,
Things are no less comples on Joe's
home front. As he rises in prominence,
his once close-knit family starts to
come unraveled. Joe's abscences
become more and more protracted as
other priorities play on this time. His
teenage daughter slowly withdraws in-
to her own world, feeling betrayed by
his neglect. His wife (Barbara Harris)
grows increasingly bitter, sensing her
husband's neglect and resenting the
demands the public spotlight puts on
her life. When Joe falls into an affair
with a beautiful Southern activist
(Meryl Streep), it is merely the overt
explosion of a fuse lit long before.-
BY FILM'S END, Joe is a figure im-
mersed inirony: He stands at the
rostrum, about to give the nominating
speech at the Democratic Convention,
at the peak-thus far-of his prestige
and influence. Yet his daughter now
hates him, and his wife may be about to
leave him as well. "What price Glory?"
seems written on his face as he stares
out at the cheering throng breathlessly
awaiting his golden words.
Considering the largely unexplored
territory of Joe Tynan's subject matter,
it's rather astonishing how drab a film
has been fashioned out of it. Thoughs
cript writer Alda painstakingly lays out
the stresses and temptations which
necessarily assault his celebrity
protagonist, his screenplay suffers
from a lack of bitea ferocity essential

to illustrate the habitual rough-and-
tumble ruthlessness of the political
world. Alda is obviously a believer in
love and gentleness, yet these noblest of
emotions ironically end up slipping and
sliding over a script which
progressively begins to read like a TV
show. For all their tormented domestic
convolutions. Tynan and family come
across as an awfully -dull lot-perhaps
typical as politcal families go, but har-
dly dramatic-enough to sustain one's at-
tention through the protracted
household interludes which infest the
filmlike an especially drab soap opera.
If Joe-Tynan bogs down as literature,
it never even gets started as cinema.
For all its philosophical deficiencies,
The Candidate at least benefited from
Michael Ritchie's virtuoso direction,
which brilliantly captured the razzle-
dazzle pageant of politics as a kind of
trobbing juggernaut with a self-
sustaining, often out-of-control life all
its own-America's Frankenstein mon-
ster, if you will. Jerry Schatzberg's
dull, pasty direction for Joe Tynan
never once captures the dangerously
manic aura inherent it is subject mat-
ter; it is as utterly flat a cinematic ef-
fort as any film in recent memory,
estranged from the inherent vibrance
of the world it's trying to depict. There
isn't one memorable shot in Joe Tynan
from beginning to end; even the con-
cluding convention footage,-usually
fertile territory for an imaginative
filmmaker-looks as lusterless and
hoky.as a made-for-TV movie.
AS MUCH AS one regrets
disparaging Alda's sincere, un-
courageous motivations, it's this TV
show- quality endemic too his roots
which stifle and defeat his film. It
reflects on his acting as well: Alda is a
splendid comic actor, but this talent
serves him ill in portraying a serious,
charismatic national figure. As diligen-
tly as he tries, Alda still comes across
more wimpish and Kennedyesque.
Barbara Harris fares somewhat better
as Tynan's increasingly embittered
spouse, as does Rip Torn as an
outrageiously lecherous senator whose
debaucheries Joe tolerates in order to
maintain a political truce. But by far
the best of a generally competent lot
are the ageless Melvyn Douglas and the
astountingly talented Meryl Streep.
As the aging senator Joe must
destroy, Douglass is quietly, dignifiedly
heartbreaking in his portrait of a man
nearing the end of both his power and
his life, knowing it full well and yet
fearing it. Streep makes more than
seems humanly possible with a
stereotyped part, transforming Alda's
hackneyed lines into pearls. This ac-
tress can do more with her face than
almost any other performer I've ever

W.S. Van Dyke's

1934

THE THIN MAN
Rick and Nora Charles are a charming couple that enjoy life
with an off beat mix of cocktails, verbal banter and detective
capers. Based on Dashiell Hammett's novel, the film inspired
a whole series of spin-offs, by successfully combining the
murder mystery with great comedy.
Mon: THE ABSENT-MINDED PROFESSOR
(withFred MacMurray & Keenan Wynn)

CINEMA GUILD

TONIGHT AT
7:00 & 9:00

OLD ARCH. AUD.
$1.50

What movie has run the LONGEST (almost a year)
and has had the most CONSECUTIVE sellouts in
the history of the Movies at Briarwood? Call
769-8783 between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm on Mon-
day, September 10, with the correct answer
and win a pair of passes to Briarwood Movies'
First Anniversary Celebration.
(Hint: It's not "Star Wars")
(50 pairs will be given away)
(Limit: I pair per person)

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