Winter Kills Film Details
Overview: The younger brother of an assassinated US President is led down a rabbit hole of conspiracies and dead ends after learning of a man claiming to be the real shooter.
Tagline: Something funny is happening in WINTER KILLS. Take it seriously!
Review: Nick Kegan is the son of a wealthy patriarch and the brother of an assassinated former president. When he hears a deathbed confession that blows the lid on the accepted facts of his brother’s death, Nick is forced into a dizzying maelstrom of counter-confessions and threats regarding what actually happened. Can he uncover the real truth ? Forget bigshot conspiracy flicks like All The President’s Men and JFK, this brilliant but obscure movie (along with Blow Out) is for my money the best American political thriller ever made. It’s both merciless and hilarious. It blows apart the JFK assassination into ten different crazy subplots and ties them into spaghetti, until our poor hero is so bewildered he doesn’t know what’s true, what’s half-true, and what’s total illusion. It’s also an incisive stab at how corporate power really works; in one astonishing scene Bridges walks into a hospital full of people lying in dirty corridors and beyond them into a palatial private room where his father explains how owning hospitals is one of the most profitable assets a capable businessman can have in his portfolio (“No customer credit – pay in advance or get out. Unique product: pain. Laundry alone throws off enough to pay the orderlies and the lab.”). This is the real America, rarely glimpsed in Hollywood movies, which are mostly made by subsidiaries of very large and anonymous corporations – Winter Kills was shot independently and distributed by Avco Embassy, a small company which made some great movies in its day (The Onion Field, The Fog, Scanners, several others), although the movie’s troubled production and poor release is itself a spiral of conspiracy and criminal manipulation. The large cast of familiar faces are all wonderfully nutty in their roles, but Huston and Perkins – as thinly-veiled parodies of Joseph Kennedy and J. Edgar Hoover respectively – steal the show. Perkins’ jaw-dropping speech where he turns the whole plot upside-down is both incredible and revolting; political filicide – “Your father spent eleven million dollars to raise your brother up from a skirt-chasing college-boy to President of the United States. For twenty years he told him what to do and how and why he was gonna do it and what would happen when it was done. Your father put Tim in the White House – why ? Because that’s where you can generate the most cash; a cold-ass business proposition, like everything else in this society. But your brother decided to stir up the population. Began to think we were all living in a democracy, he started believing it. Lunch with the De Gaulles, dinner with Khrushchev, the whole razzle-dazzle went to his head. Yet in spite of the fact that everybody out there in this country lives in the same dog-eat-dog way, grabbing any angle to make a buck, if you were to inform them that your father had Tim killed, they’d wanna tear the old man apart, limb from limb.”. Watch out for too for spaghetti-western icon Milian as the con in the prison van, Kurosawa legend Mifune as the butler and Elizabeth Taylor in a wild wordless cameo as a society madame. The tragedy of Winter Kills is that its director, the very promising Richert, was effectively sidelined. Concurrent to this he made a great comedy – The American Success Company, written by Larry Cohen and also starring Bridges and Bauer – and later an offbeat teen-drama with River Phoenix, A Night In The Life Of Jimmy Reardon, but he become a marginal director, like Richard Rush or Michael Reeves. Don’t let this distract you though; Winter Kills is the best political conspiracy movie the Mysterious They don’t want you to see, which is the most important reason in the world for trying to track it down. Featuring excellent photography by Vilmos Zsigmond and John Bailey, and based on a book by Richard Condon (a terrific author, who also penned The Manchurian Candidate and Prizzi’s Honor). Fabulous.
Country: United States
Duration: 97 min
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Mystery
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