Catching up with Cassavetes: #10 – “Gloria” (1980)

gloria-1980-03-gOh no. What is going on here? For Cassavetes’ 10th film he left the independent route in favor of a studio film (Columbia Pictures), and the results, contrary to what IMDB’s high 7.1 rating and Rotten Tomatoes whopping 95% would lead me to believe, are disappointing at best.

Gloria is a gritty – though I prefer the word sloppy – cat and mouse scenario movie in where our eponymous leading lady (Gena Rowlands) plays a tough-as-nails New Yorker who has unwillingly been given the task of helping a young – and extremely annoying – Puerto Rican kid avoid being gunned down from the gangsters who are trying to exterminate his family.

This is a straight forward genre picture, one of the ultra violent action variety that, to its credit, does a good job of depicting the crime riddled streets of late-1970s New York City. Aside from this depiction of a city now alien to how its current state in 2014, the only other assets this thing has going for it is Rowlands performance, which as expected, is great as usual, and the all but too brief time spent with one of my all time favorite character actors, Val Avery.

In case you couldn’t already tell, especially from my two snarky opening paragraphs, I did not enjoy this movie. In fact, I’m just downright dumfounded of its existence, especially when taking into consideration of where it lands within Cassavete’s directing career. Hey, I’m open to auteurs altering their already recognizable cinematic thumbprints, it’s just that after his previous three films, “A Woman Under the Influence“, “The Killing of a Chinese Bookie“, and “Opening Night” I was expecting something equally rich in content. Is it my fault he set the bar so high? Am I wrong to have expected something containing some sort of alternate commentary or subtext to compliment the basic narrative, as he so expertly crafted in three above mentioned films?

What it boils down to is I guess if the man wants to make studio involved genre picture, complete with smaltsy musical manipulations, noticeably cringe inducing sound designs, and one hell of a horrible kid actor (there’s a reason why he won a Razzie), then far be it from me to dislike it because I pigeonholed him to a higher standard.

I’m so ready to put this one behind me and just move on. Up next, “Love Streams

Catching up with Cassavetes: #1 – “Shadows” (1959)
Catching up with Cassavetes: #2 – “Too Late Blues” (1961)
Catching up with Cassavetes: #3 – “A Child is Waiting” (1963)
Catching up with Cassavetes: #4 – “Faces” (1968)
Catching up with Cassavetes: #5 – “Husbands” (1970)
Catching up with Cassavetes: #6 – “Minnie and Moskowitz (1971)
Catching up with Cassavetes: #7 – “A Woman Under the Influence” (1974)
Catching up with Cassavetes: #8 – “The Killing of a Chinese Bookie” (1976)
Catching up with Cassavetes: #9 – “Opening Night” (1977)


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