In a perfect world, Roy Scheider would have been allowed to make exactly one movie in the 70s and 80s where he co-stars with a shark, and then he would have had to spend the rest of that era in thrillers set in New York City.
There is something about Scheider that radiates urbane sophistication combined the underlying tension necessary to survive in that city in that time. Still Of The Night has a vibe similar to Marathon Man, just with Scheider in the Hoffman role. And yet he is also somehow the role he played in that other movie. Well, it made sense when I was watching the film.
Here, he is a psychiatrist who has a patient we first see as a corpse. This patient was the head of the acquisitions department of the prestigious auction house Christies (whoops, I mean Crispins) and, over a series of patient sessions shown in flashback, we learn he was sleeping with a newly hired assistant.
Meryl Streep plays said assistant. We had already met her by this point, as she stopped by Scheider’s office to return a watch the deceased had accidentally left at her apartment. Maybe he could give it to dead, skeezy guy’s wife for her? Scheider incredulously wonders why she didn’t just mail it to her and I agree with that suggestion. Of course, we have to introduce the love interest early so we can get to he and Streep fumbling to open a boxed gift she’s given him and we know all he can think about is her box.
Anyhoo: red herrings, dark hallways, muggers, auctions, dream sequence, misdirection, twist ending. The movie does all these things competently (sometimes memorably). Unfortunately, I left the movie with the nagging suspicion there are numerous, large plot holes, yet I also couldn’t bother myself to muse upon the film further.
All in all, not a bad way to pass the time if one is a fan of such thrillers. At the same time, not up to the level of such work as Agatha Christie’s—possibly not even up to the par of Agatha Crispin’s.
Dir: Robert Benton
Starring Roy Scheider, Meryl Streep
Watched on Kanopy