Directed by: John Hough (The Incubus)
Starring: Sophia Loren, John Cassavetes, George Kennedy, Robert Vaughn, Patrick McGoohan, Max Von Sydow
I have a theory — probably unprovable — that studios and producers have a list of directors labeled “Just Good Enough.” On this list are people who can be trusted to turn out competent movies from scripts that are also “just good enough” — those movies you can’t really believe anyone is actually excited about making (and which audiences aren’t particularly excited to see). That, to me, is the essence of director John Hough’s career and exactly how I feel about his Brass Target. The whole enterprise — including its cast of name (or at least name-worthy) actors — is just good enough. The story is OK — General Patton (George Kennedy, of all people) trying to get the bottom of $250 million worth of German gold at the end of World War II, while those responsible for the theft try to put the old boy out of the way, and some OSS men try to prevent that. In fact, that plot ought to provide a more exciting movie than the one that results. It all sounds good on paper and the cast is at least interesting. The problem is that few of them — Patrick McGoohan is the notable exception — seem terribly interested in what they’re doing. No one embarrasses himself or herself and Hough keeps it moving pretty quickly so that it’s never dull. But its greatest value is probably for the mere presence of the cast. And hulking mouth-breathing Edward Herrmann as Robert Vaughn’s much-abused boy toy is certainly a curious touch.
The Hendersonville Film Society will show Brass Target Sunday, April 28 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.
In Brief: The cast and the premise of John Hough’s Brass Target (1978) is considerably more interesting than the film itself. The idea that General Patton was deliberately killed in that 1945 “accident” to prevent him from uncovering what happened to a hijacked trainload of Nazi gold is intriguing enough. And the prospect of Robert Vaughn as a colonel with a penchant for younger men, with Edward Herrmann as the object of his obsession, sounds more promising than it actually is. (So is the idea of seeing 1960s TV spy icons Vaughn and Patrick McGoohan in the same movie.) It’s just not much fun, but it does keep moving and is worth a look.