Picks and Pans Review: Jake Spanner, Private Eye
USA (Wed., Nov. 15, 9 P.M. ET)
This creaky detective yarn begins with Ernest Borgnine chasing Robert Mitchum in Los Angeles’ Echo Park and ends with Mitchum catching and tackling Borgnine on the field of the L.A. Coliseum. Nothing in between generates more suspense than these geriatric footraces.
Mitchum plays the title character, lured out of retirement by Borgnine, who wants company on an extorted nocturnal pay-off—a double-cross plot twist snatched from Raymond Chandler by way of Mitchum’s 1975 film, Farewell, My Lovely.
Producer-writer Andrew (The Man with Bogart’s Face) Fenady can’t decide whether to camp it up entirely or just lightly spoof the genre. The result is a silly film with very flat senior citizen jokes (“First the Ex-Lax goes to work, and then we do”).
Mitchum is livelier than he was in War and Remembrance—meaning he occasionally arches his eyebrows—but his description of himself as “the world’s oldest detective” is too close to the truth. This film is mainly of interest because Mitchum’s brother John plays his bourbon-soaked brother in the film. It’s the first time the two have played siblings in their long careers.