Saturday, October 4, 2008

O.J. Simpson...it wasn't all bad.


There's news today out of Vegas that O.J. Simpson was convicted of kidnapping, armed robbery and ten other charges, a conviction which may very well send the Juice to prison for the rest of his life. I'm often accused of being a "negative" person, or a "downer" as some have said, so rather than focus on Simpson's negatives, like his brutal murder of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman, or his unerring douchiness since buying his way to freedom, I'm going to right my mean-spirited ways by talking about some of the good he's done---specifically him being a cast member in one of my all-time favorite films...Capricorn One.

Knowing most of the people who will read this, I'm fairly comfortable in my assessment that 90% of you have never even heard of this 1978 Peter Hyams-directed gem. The story, in short, is about a NASA mission to Mars which, due to budgetary and technical difficulties, ends up being faked. When the unmanned capsule burns up on reentry, the poor astronauts who were duped into going along with the sham realize they're utterly screwed. One of the astronauts is played by O.J. Simpson. It's worth noting that the first black American man into space wasn't until 1983 so, in a way, O.J. Simpson was the Rosa Parks of fictitious black astronauts. Or something.

Elliot Gould, back when it was cool to be Elliot Gould, plays a nosy journalist who singularly suspects that something isn't quite right. He mugs his way through this film like he's a private investigator in a 1940's noire flick, complete with a cigarette dangling from his mouth and several attempts on his life. He's like a disheveled version of Jim Rockford. He's pretty much awesome. Helping him along the way is none other than Telly Savalas, making a "special appearance" as a crop dusting pilot who thinks everyone is a pervert. I'm not making this up. Check out this scene and tell me you're not just a wee bit intrigued.



Capricorn One is, to say the least, an odd film. Any film with Elliot Gould and Telly Savalas flying a crop dusting plane while being shot at by heavily armed helicopters can't help but be odd. It also, much to my surprise, works. Peter Hyams, while not being a great director, is great at one thing. Pacing. He is, in my estimation, the master of well-paced mediocre movies: Outland, The Star Chamber, 2010, Running Scared, The Presidio, Narrow Margin, and several others. Some of those films are actually better than mediocre, but you get the idea. They won't be appearing on the AFI list anytime soon, but a well-paced movie can easily make up for many of its shortcomings...and Capricorn One is one such movie. It's exciting and offbeat, a thriller and a comedy. It also features a wonderfully aggressive score by Jerry Goldsmith, easily one of his best in his storied career.



Thanks, O.J.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Brian said...

Contrarian.

October 5, 2008 at 11:54 AM  
Blogger Koven said...

"Capricorn One," "Outland," and "2010" are all on my list of movies I loved as a kid but haven't seen since. I don't think I realized until this post that they were all Peter Hyams movies. They all have really weird casts, too--Peter Boyle? James Brolin? Bob Balaban? Really?

I think I see an awesome triple feature in our future, Kraig.

October 6, 2008 at 12:43 PM  
Blogger Kraig Smith said...

I've seen them all multiple times and all within the past few years. While all of them have some moments of cheese, they all hold up really well. Count me in for a triple feature anytime.

October 6, 2008 at 2:30 PM  
Blogger Kraig Smith said...

I've seen them all multiple times and all within the past few years. While all of them have some moments of cheese, they all hold up really well. Count me in for a triple feature anytime.

October 6, 2008 at 2:30 PM  
Blogger Romy said...

Looks like a cool flick, but I'll have to stick with "Towering Inferno" as my favorite OJ movie, where he plays a selfless kitten-rescuer. He's totally convincing, but now I realize what a stretch that role must have been. Incredible.

October 7, 2008 at 8:45 PM  

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