The Drowning Pool (1975)

“The Drowning Pool” (1975)

IMDb

black tide

I assume that the purpose of this film was to explore the on-screen persona of a by than fully established Paul Newman.

This means we have a film built upon crystallized notions of style, associated with the comedy effect that comes with it. Basically, the film would live on the audience buying the Newman effect, and accepting that the fact that Newman was on-screen was enough for the film to be worth it. So, they use a stylish noir story, because that allows them to be around, and with Paul all the time, making everything happen around him all the way. He is (literally) our detective. This was released the year after Chinatown. I don’t know how much they took this into consideration, but i supposed suddenly noir was fashion again, and so this would make a film as this one even more appealing.

I’m not sure whether this worked in its days, but i can say that today this looks (and sounds!) incredibly awkward, and today i wonder how they expected to get away with it. But times change and it is possible that one day this might have sounded relatively appealing to a certain kind of audience. Those would be, i suppose, people of Newman’s generation, because his 50 years old might be curious to those days youngsters as much as, say, Harrison Ford was appealing to my generation (i’m 25), but he wouldn’t exactly be on top of a world already revered de Niro, Al Pacino, etc.

What really sounds bad is, oddly enough, Newman’s acting, which is over top and, i would say, lazy. He goes with the tide, does not take himself seriously (and that might be good) but than he spirals into self-parody, which sounds exaggerated and unnatural. Woodward is the only good part here, i think.

And the “pool” of the title is a good stunt, i admit. It has an interesting flavour, obviously enhanced by the almost naked bodies, which was clearly the intention, well, not so far away from the premises of any Bond film anyway. But the rest of the thing just drags.

Oh, and this was shot in an area that today is on the verge of ceasing to exist in its natural richness. The same oil that mcguffins this story is the responsible today. terrible.

My opinion: 2/5

This comment on IMDb

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