Tag: George Segal

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #67. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.


“I swear, if you existed, I’d divorce you.”

Before starting this countdown, there were maybe 20 movies on the list I hadn’t seen before.  So that means the vast majority are movies I’m somewhat familiar with.  It’s great when it’s an excuse to re-watch something I’ve already seen countless times and know I love, like Goodfellas.  It’s a real chore when I have to sit through something I know I will hate all over again, like Titanic.  But I think the best results come when it’s a movie I’ve seen once, years ago, and remember liking, but don’t remember why.  Those have been the biggest rewards so far with this countdown, knowing I’ll like a movie, but being totally blown away by loving it.  It happened earlier with The Apartment and 12 Angry Men.  And today it happened more than ever before, with Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

George (Richard Burton) and Martha (Elizabeth Taylor) are a middle aged, married couple.  A very unhappy middle aged, married couple.  One night after a party with colleagues at the college where George is a professor, they invite over the latest addition to the college’s teaching staff and his wife, Nick (George Segal) and Honey.  An invitation grudgingly made by George and Martha at the behest of Martha’s father, who also happens to be the college president. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***FONDA WEEK*** Fun With Dick and Jane (1977)

“Interesting that the only two jobs you think I am qualified for are a secretary and a prostitute.”

Ted Kotcheff… Director of insane Australian psychological horror Wake in Fright. George Segal… Star of middeling 90s / early new millennium sitcom Just Shoot Me and amazingly hilarious, tragically under seen 70s comedy Where’s Poppa?. Jane Fonda… Sexplotation hotty who graduated into overly self important prestige pomp. What do these three people have in common? They all believe the moon landing was faked*. They also all worked together on Fun With Dick and Jane.

Dick (Segal) works for a high end aerospace company, until he’s fired. When he gets home to his upper middle class home, his wife, Jane (Fonda) is directing an army of builders and gardeners as they have a new pool and elaborate landscaping installed. She takes the news of Dick’s sacking well, at first. But it’s more to do with their own obliviousness than it is compassion. The two continue living their lavish lifestyle until all their money is gone. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | California Split (1974)

Movies about gambling are rarely fun romps where someone knows when to stop after a big win, cash in their chips and live happily ever after.   Based on the hand full I’ve seen, Robert Altman movies are also rarely fun romps with happily ever after endings.   So when I decided to watch a gambling movie directed by Robert Altman, I was ready for darkness, but California Split delivers a kind of darkness I wasn’t expecting.

Opening in a weird poker hall like nothing I’ve ever seen in a movie before, Altman uses the venue to give the audience a quick lesson in such establishments and setup the world this movie is set in.  A room full of small time gamblers playing relatively low stakes poker, who are willing to physically fight over the meager pots being wagered.  George Segal is William Denny, a seemingly moderate gambler, quiet and unassuming.  Opposite him at a card table is Elliot Gould’s Charlie Waters, a loud mouthed, joke cracking, full blown degenerate gambler.

After forming an almost immediate bond, the two embark on a binge of gambling on cards, horses, boxing and whatever other contests they come across.  Through Gould, Segal meets a couple of broads and also falls deeper and deeper into gambling, until he’s seriously in debt to a local bookie.  He neglects his work and finally hocks almost all of his possessions to fund a trip to Reno.  This is where California Split really surprised me.  What happens in Reno and how Segal reacts to it, would have been a happy ending in any other movie.  But the way Altman treats it, the result is somehow tragic.

Segal and Gould are both great comic actors, and California Split exploits that more than once.  In fact, it’s the light, funny moments between these characters that makes the downers hit even harder.  Despite their many short comings, Segal and Gould are just so likeable and watchable, that you still really want William and Charlie to catch that big win they’re chasing for most of the movie.

Because this is a Robert Altman movie, you need to be prepared to have at least half a dozen people talking over each other at almost all times.  Sure, it ads to the reality and often helps enhance the hyper world they’re in and pressures they feel when money is on the line, but like all Altman movies, he can over do it at times.

Apart from the great performances of the two leads, the other upside to California Split is its pace.  This thing hits the ground running and never really lets up.  They live in a world where split second decision making can be the difference between fortune and failure, and Altman keeps everything moving at a speed to make that even more visceral.

California Split
Directed By – Robert Altman
Written By – Joseph Walsh