Tough Guys Don't Dance

Director: Norman Mailer
Year Released: 1987
Rating: 2.0

Notoriously campy Mailer film - the last he directed - is based on his own novel about a hard-drinking bum (Ryan O'Neal) who goes on such a coke-and-booze bender he can't remember if he committed murder or not. You could create a checklist of all that's wrong with it - Atrocious Southern accents! Over-the-top acting! Incomprehensible plotting! Ill-placed flashbacks! The misogyny! The homophobia! Oh man! Oh God! - but it's one of those stunning train wreck movies that might, for some filmgoers, fall into the so-awful-it's-great category (sadly, the accents and mid-picture flashbacks took their toll on me). The dialogue is outrageous and memorable - I love Isabella Rossellini's shouting, "This country is crazy! I am crazy!" - and a decent reason to watch this - Lawrence Tierney, in particular, has fun with his outspoken father figure character. It takes a genius of Mailer's caliber to concoct as bizarre a debacle as this, though it suggests that literary brilliance can't always be translated to excellence in filmmaking. I'll admit it: I've always admired the man - I voted for him to be speaker at my college graduation (naturally, they picked someone else) - and I miss him.