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Harper and The Drowning Pool


sewhite2000
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Had trouble sleeping each of the last two Thursday nights and happened to turn on TCM just as each of these movies was beginning. I haven't been watching the Paul Newman tribute otherwise. I saw Eddie Mueller was introducing Harper, but I didn't turn on my TV until the opening credits were already rolling for The Drowning Pool. Did he present all the Newman films in May? Nice to see him expanding his role on the network a bit, if he did. Newman playing so many tough guys it was probably seen by network brass as an okay transition for Mueller. They probably won't have him introducing the Shirley Temple lineup in August.

Thoughts on these films, anyone? I found them both watchable but pretty slow moving. If they were made today, they would be punched up with more fistfights, gunfights and car chases, no doubt. There are really no action sequences to speak of in either, except for the sanitarium escape by flooding the room scene in the latter. I guess the first one was a big enough of a hit to merit a sequel, but nine years seems an eternity to wait. I don't know if the second one had a significantly smaller budget, but the star power of the first (Lauren Bacall, Janet Leigh, Shelly Winters, Julie Harris, Robert Wagner) diminished in the second (after Woodward and Newman, the most famous people in the movie were Anthony Franciosa, Murray Hamilton and Richard Jaeckel). Both films featured an uncomfortably young female (Pamela Tiffin in the first, Melanie Griffith in the second) lying down on a bed and asking Newman/Harper if he wants to "relax". He turns down both. Newman has his easy charm, but he kind of seems to be sleepwalking through both of these movies. The plots to both are really complicated; I stopped trying to sort out what was going in my head about halfway through each and just focused on the acting and the atmosphere.

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Although critics (and the public apparently, Harper was a big hit; Pool may have barely broke even) preferred Harper, I liked Drowning Pool more. For one, I found it easier to follow and had more "atmosphere". I don't think the "star power" really helped Harper. Thought it would have been better set in the 40s or 30s.

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I prefer "The Drowning Pool" because of its New Orleans setting and Joanne Woodward. It also was one of three memorable 1975 movies that featured the young Melanie Griffith (the others were "Night Moves" and "Smile").

Image result for paul newman melanie griffith the drowning pool  images

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"Harper" always reminds me of the time in June 1984 when Shelley Winters and Annie Potts were guests on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson." Winters was surprised when Potts reminded her that they had done a film together (it was the 1978 drama "King of the Gypsies").

Winters remembered that she had appeared on "The Tonight Show" years before with Paul Newman and -- again -- had a memory lapse about co-starring with him in "Harper."

Image result for shelley winters annie potts the tonight show images

The good part starts at the 39:00 mark. Carson's reactions are priceless.

 

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3 hours ago, jakeem said:

I prefer "The Drowning Pool" because of its New Orleans setting and Joanne Woodward. It also was one of three memorable 1975 movies that featured the young Melanie Griffith (the others were "Night Games" and "Smile").

Image result for paul newman melanie griffith the drowning pool  images

Yes, very early Melanie. One of the few times Joanne got to be glamorous on the screen also.

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I actually purchased the Harper DVD several years ago.  Haven't watched it in a long time.  

I have seen both and The Drowning Pool is probably better for the reasons stated above.  But not enough for me to record it and watch it again.  I think Harper was better written and flowed better than Pool.

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1 hour ago, Hibi said:

Although critics (and the public apparently, Harper was a big hit; Pool may have barely broke even) preferred Harper, I liked Drowning Pool more. For one, I found it easier to follow and had more "atmosphere". I don't think the "star power" really helped Harper. Thought it would have been better set in the 40s or 30s.

The 30's are too old.

Ross MacDonald wrote The Moving Target in 1949 (it was filmed as Harper (1966), The Drowning Pool was written in 1950 filmed as The Drowning Pool in 1975

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1 hour ago, jakeem said:

I prefer "The Drowning Pool" because of its New Orleans setting and Joanne Woodward. It also was one of three memorable 1975 movies that featured the young Melanie Griffith (the others were "Night Games" and "Smile").

Image result for paul newman melanie griffith the drowning pool  images

Night Moves

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2 minutes ago, cigarjoe said:

The 30's are too old.

Ross MacDonald wrote The Moving Target in 1949 (it was filmed as Harper (1966), The Drowning Pool was written in 1950 filmed as The Drowning Pool in 1975

Well, I think the 40s time period would've fit the story better. I didnt know the books were written circa 1950.

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1 hour ago, sewhite2000 said:

Looks like the novels on which they were based were written around 1950, but the filmmakers chose to put them in contemporary settings.

Actually Ross MacDonald's last Archer novel was The Blue Hammer – 1976 so the character was still contemporary when The Drowning Pool came out

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I like Harper (1966), because for me its a dividing line between the straight laced detective prior to the film, and the 70's detectives who never wore suits or ties. And at times were quite sloppy but got the job done. I grew up with an older brother who watched every cop/detective show during the 70's. And still does !

I've always been interested in how trends begin and end. Its all subjective but, I find it fascinating in that you can never predict it.

 

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6 hours ago, cigarjoe said:

Actually Ross MacDonald's last Archer novel was The Blue Hammer – 1976 so the character was still contemporary when The Drowning Pool came out

This is a tiny point of contention, but I believe Drowning Pool was based on a novel from 1950, so even though the author was still contemporary, they could have thought about making that particular adaptation a period piece (although they'd already set Harper in modern times).

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On 5/30/2019 at 10:21 PM, sewhite2000 said:

This is a tiny point of contention, but I believe Drowning Pool was based on a novel from 1950, so even though the author was still contemporary, they could have thought about making that particular adaptation a period piece (although they'd already set Harper in modern times).

No, not the author, the character Archer (name changed to Harper in the film) was contemporary to when the film was made, the last Archer/Harper book was The Blue Hammer published 1976.

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2 hours ago, cigarjoe said:

No, not the author, the character Archer (name changed to Harper in the film) was contemporary to when the film was made, the last Archer/Harper book was The Blue Hammer published 1976.

I am really unsure what I'm saying that you've felt the need to "correct" me twice. We are having some kind of "failure to communicate", to steal a line from another Newman film. All I'm trying to say is the novel The Drowning Pool was written in 1950, so the filmmakers could have chosen to set the movie adaptation in 1950 if they wanted to.

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2 hours ago, sewhite2000 said:

I am really unsure what I'm saying that you've felt the need to "correct" me twice. We are having some kind of "failure to communicate", to steal a line from another Newman film. All I'm trying to say is the novel The Drowning Pool was written in 1950, so the filmmakers could have chosen to set the movie adaptation in 1950 if they wanted to.

I agree, it's not like Mitchum's The Big Sleep which updated Marlowe to 1978. I'm just saying that the character was an active PI from 1950 to 1976, so you could set the character within those bookend years. 

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I saw the Mitchum Big Sleep adaptation recently and boy was it bad!. Although it stayed pretty close to the original plot updating it to 70s London just didnt work. Candy Clark's scenes were edited though.

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3 hours ago, Hibi said:

I saw the Mitchum Big Sleep adaptation recently and boy was it bad!. Although it stayed pretty close to the original plot updating it to 70s London just didnt work. Candy Clark's scenes were edited though.

Not only did I enjoy this version, it helped me to understand the prior version which was so censored, it was difficult to follow.

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