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Author Topic: The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (1973)  (Read 2278 times)
Groggy
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« on: June 04, 2012, 08:02:52 PM »

I didn't see an existing topic, so here's a Groggy review:

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The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (1973) is better remembered for its tumultuous production than its content. Besides location problems and a round-robin of directors (Brian G. Hutton, pre-Jaws Steven Spielberg and finally Richard C. Sarafian), it gained tabloid infamy for the steamy affair between stars Burt Reynolds and Sarah Miles. Then came the mysterious death of Miles' neurotic agent/paramour David Whiting. This led to a long, humiliating inquest which ruined Miles' already-spotty career.


These sundry scandals are certainly more interesting than the actual film. The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing starts off well, then gradually drifts into oblivion. Like many '70s Westerns, it's an episodic ramble, which would be fine if it led anywhere.


Headstrong Cat Dancing (Sarah Miles) runs away from her repressive husband, stuffy businessman Willard Crocker (George Hamilton). Dancing gets caught up in a train robbery, and becomes the hostage of outlaw Jay Grobart (Burt Reynolds) and his gang. Jay and Cat slowly bond, while dodging violent Indians, intergang tensions and a posse headed by Crocker and Marshal Lapchance (Lee J. Cobb).


Cat Dancing starts out well, with an exciting train robbery and appealingly mismatched leads. Sarafian provides beautiful Arizona locations and a number of violent set pieces, especially a brutal slugfest between Grobart and his lieutenant (Jack Warden). But before long, the movie dissolves into an episodic mess. Eleanor Perry's script lacks any drive, spinning its wheels until the bottom drops out. The main hook is the effective Jay-Cat romance, but even this is undermined by digressions (a long, tedious sequence with Jay's Indian in-laws) and an anemic non-climax.


Burt Reynolds is perfectly cast, all rugged charm and frontier chivalry. Sarah Miles is fetching but seems out of place in a Western, Ryan's Daughter parasol and all. For a supposedly liberated frontier woman, she sure spends a lot of time getting rescued from rapacious ruffians. Jack Warden (All the President's Men) makes a hateful villain, and Bo Hopkins (The Wild Bunch) and Jay Silverheels (Broken Arrow) turn in dependable performances. On the negative side, Lee J. Cobb (On the Waterfront) is wasted and George Hamilton (Rough Riders) is laughably miscast.


The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing is a middling Western. With a more focused storyline it could have been a classic, but it's destined to be a scandalous footnote in Burt Reynolds' career.6/10

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2012/06/man-who-loved-cat-dancing.html

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« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2012, 07:39:50 AM »

I haven't seen this, but it was filmed close to here (AZ) and the murder was big news.

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stanton
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« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2012, 12:37:56 PM »

A good western. Groggy mostly nails it, but I had no problems with Cobb and Hamilton. 6/10

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« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2012, 12:40:33 PM »

Headstrong Cat Dancing (Sarah Miles) runs away

But that's wrong.
Cat Dancing was an Indian girl, the great lost love of Reynold's past.

The German title was again painfully great. They called it The Man Who Let the Cats Dance (Der Mann der die Katzen tanzen ließ). "Die Katzen tanzen lassen" could be translated with "to rock the house".

« Last Edit: June 12, 2012, 12:52:35 PM by stanton » Logged

Groggy
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« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2012, 12:48:15 PM »

But that's wrong.
Cat Dancing was an Indian girl, the great lost love of Reynold's past.

Thanks for catching that. I'll amend my review shortly.

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« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2012, 12:53:08 PM »

I haven't seen this, but it was filmed close to here (AZ) and the murder was big news.

Whiting's death was almost certainly a suicide but the circumstances surrounding it are quite peculiar. Adrian Turner's book on Robert Bolt has a long chapter about it. Seems like something Mike Siegel might be able to shed some light on.

Whereabouts in Arizona do you live Cusser?

« Last Edit: June 12, 2012, 01:01:11 PM by Groggy » Logged


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« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2015, 01:31:47 PM »

The movie is too long and female-audience oriented (no wonder being novel and screenplay authored by women). But it is better than 6/10. 7/10 is for me, though I can't understand why Warden doesn't kill Reynolds right off, why Reynolds sleeps placidly though knowing he's being chased.

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« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2016, 05:08:11 PM »

Never seen it yet. Will have to check it out.

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« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2017, 05:05:55 AM »

I wish Groggy would come back  Sad

Cat Prancing.

Richard C. Sarafian directs and Eleanor Perry adapts the screenplay from Marilyn Durham's novel. It stars Burt Reynolds, Sarah Miles, Lee J. Cobb, Jack Warden, George Hamilton, Bo Hopkins, Robert Donner and Jay Silverheels. Music is by John Williams and cinematography (Panavision/Metrocolor) by Harry Stradling JR.

Train robbing outlaw starts to fall for a woman who inadvertently becomes a kidnapee.

The rumours and gossip behind the making of the film are far more interesting than the film itself. Miles was married to Robert Bolt (they would be married twice), and it is believed that Bolt had to do uncredited work on the script to make it better! This as Miles and Reynolds were having some fun after hours, while Miles' manager (David Whiting) died under suspicious circumstances during the production.

The production is, on a technical level, superb, the locations are outstandingly realised by Stradling's photography, while Williams shows his multi stranded genius by providing a number of different musical compositions throughout the pic. Sadly the film drags and come the midway point it just becomes dull.

It starts off promisingly, with a daring train robbery introducing us to a band of outlaws, led by Reynolds of course, who are interesting enough to keep us, well, interested. Yet this proves to be a false dawn as what looked like being a potent manhunt of the gang, with revenge flavoured seasoning and sexual tensions, quickly turns into a wet romance stretched out to nearly two hours run time. As Miles and Reynolds take center stage for the second half of film, you realise that Cobb and Warden have been criminally underused. Lead performances are OK, it's just that the narrative is uninteresting and poorly directed - though a pat on the back is warranted for the respectful writing of the American Indians.

It looks and musically sounds great, but really it's hard to recommend with confidence. 5/10

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