Cynical times prompt cynical films. The early 1970s were a cynical time for many people. The bloom and possibilities of the 1960s were rapidly fading. In 1972, U.S. President Richard M. Nixon easily won re-election, even as the Watergate investigation was getting underway. On the entertainment front, the so-called “New Hollywood” was hitting its stride. In his late 50s, Burt Lancaster was certainly a star from a previous generation. Because I saw Airport (1970) during its theatrical engagement, Lancaster’s performance as airport manager Mel Bakersfield established his cool, calm, forceful persona in my mind. Later I caught up with many of his earlier films, yet what strikes me on closer examination of his career is how risky it became during the 1970s. After Airport, he made the Western Lawman with director Michael Winner and writer Gerald Wilson, and then two more Westerns (Valdez Is Coming and Robert Aldrich’s terrific Ulzana’s Raid) before returning to the modern day in Scorpio, again under the direction of Winner. Based on a screenplay by David W. Rintels and Gerald Wilson, the film sets up the easy friendship between CIA operative Cross (Lancaster) and freelance killer Jean Laurier (Alain Delon), who becomes known as Scorpio…. Read full this story
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