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  Man with Bogart's Face, The Here's Looking At YouBuy this film here.
Year: 1980
Director: Robert Day
Stars: Robert Sacchi, Franco Nero, Michelle Phillips, Olivia Hussey, Misty Rowe, Victor Buono, Herbert Lom, Sybil Danning, Richard Bakalyan, Gregg Palmer, Jay Robinson, George Raft, Yvonne De Carlo, Mike Mazurki, Henry Wilcoxon, Victor Sen Yung, Martin Kosleck
Genre: Comedy, Thriller
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: The bandages have come off and the operation has worked perfectly: now budding private detective Sam Marlow (Robert Sacchi) has the face of Golden Age movie star Humphrey Bogart. With this gimmick in place, he can set up his office and wait for the custom to come knocking, but first he needs a secretary. She arrives when she answers an advertisement he has placed in the newspaper and they immediately hit it off, even if Duchess (Misty Rowe), as he calls her, can only type with one finger and insists on writing out transcripts of the dirty phone calls she receives. Now all Marlow needs is clients...

And no sooner has he opened his doors than he gets three cases almost simultaneously, four if you count the arrangement he has with his landlady (the giant-sized A'leisha Brevard) to track down her boyfriend in return for three months' rent. As you can see, this was a spoof made to capitalise on what was not only the main character's gimmick but the film's gimmick as well, plainly produced with mainly television talent behind the camera, including producer and writer Andrew J. Fenady (who also wrote the original novel the story was drawn from).

Sacchi made his career on his resemblance to Bogart, largely in T.V. commercials, and it was fortunate he didn't sound like Peter Lorre as he had the voice down pat as well. While you're never entirely convinced that it's the real thing you're watching, it's amusing to imagine the Bogart of the forties transplanted into 1980 Los Angeles which is essentially what happens here. Obviously made with affection, Marlow drops in references to classic movies, and not just Bogart ones as there is, for example, a Lady from Shanghai hall of mirrors scene and a picture of Gene Tierney up on the wall of the office, an allusion to Laura.

Funnily ennough, co-star Michelle Phillips (as millionaire's daughter Gena) resembles Tierney quite a bit, which is presumably supposed to make up for the fact that she and Bogart never made a classic movie together (unless The Left Hand of God is considered a classic now?). Gena is Marlow's love interest, but she is not the first woman to cross his path as client number one is Elsa (Olivia Hussey) who is worried that some thugs are following her father for reasons unknown. As it turns out, Marlow isn't able to offer her father much protection: Elsa's dad ends up shot dead before he has any lines to speak.

There are a selection of stars in various stages of dimming celebrity in the film. Some, like Martin Kosleck (as the unfortunate father) and Yvonne De Carlo (as Gena's mother) are offered no lines whatsoever, while others are awarded scenes that amount to little more than a cameo: George Raft, in his final role, is one of those. Elsewhere, it's a varied cast, apparently picked for their recognition factor to a selection of cult movie fans, so Sybil Danning does a belly dance (for a very long time), Victor Buono strips off in a scene no one in their right mind would want to see, Herbert Lom is a gay villain and Franco Nero is the Mr Big behind the labyrinthine plotting. As it's intended to be a comedy, there are plenty of jokes, but not much you can imagine the real Bogart delivering; in fact, Marlow can be kind of crass with his frequent mentions of nakedness (not that we actually see anyone naked here). If you wished that the star of the title had lived to see the eighties, then you're welcome to this mildly endearing but flat take on the concept. Music by George Duning.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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