Thursday, September 29, 2011

I Heart Jack Klugman ~ The Detective (1968)

Jack Klugman has a minor role a good Jewish cop in the non-Tony Rome/Frank Sinatra film The Detective (1968). He plays Officer Dave Schoenstein, whom besides Sinatra's Detective Joe Leland, is probably the most decent cop among the bunch. And he's the one cop that comes through for Sinatra in the end. Klugman's Dave also represents the viewer. We (Klugman and the audience) need to be convinced by Sinatra's Leland about his discoveries.

The Detective is not a film that holds up well today. I think the main attraction for folks is Frank Sinatra in a Tony Rome-esque role and possibly Lee Remick, Robert Duvall and a very young Jacqueline Bisset. If you love Jack Klugman as much as I do, this is a must see.  While the film was very likely avant garde for its time, looking back at it with contemporary eyes it seems homophobic. Sinatra stars as Joe Leland, a cop in a complicated marriage with sociology student Lee Remick. He's put on the case of a gay man who has been brutally murdered. The crime is of a sexual nature so the police are looking for the man's gay roommate and perhaps any other gay man in New York City with any connection to him. They convict and execute the gay man's gay roommate but Sinatra, after the execution, feels like they got the wrong guy. Even though the guy confessed and Sinatra was the one to arrest him and so on and so forth. So the guy confessed to a murder he didn't commit so he could be killed to end his life being a drug-addicted gay man?! As Klugman's character in the film would say, "Oy Vey!". There is some serious over acting on the part of Ralph Meeker who plays the gay roommate. Sinatra goes looking for the real killer even though the corrupt police force he works for is opposed to it. Sinatra and Klugman are sympathetic characers and Robert Duvall is a sad pitiful homophobe. If you like watching Lee Remick play another character on a downward spiral, watch this!

Funny coincidence but the gay roommate's character is named Felix. Felix. Hmmm.. that sounds familiar. Oh yeah! Oscar (Jack Klugman) and Felix (Tony Randall) are roommates in The Odd Couple. Klugman, Randall and Garry Marshall (producer) were always trying to avoid the two main characters being seen as potentially gay roommates.

Here are some screencaps of scenes from the film with Jack Klugman in it. You'll notice he's almost always in the background. I love the shots of him at the gym with all the bodybuilders! In his suit, coat and fedora he looks so out of place.

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