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Stand Up Guys

By Michael Moriarty
web posted September 7, 2020

A profoundly underappreciated classic! With a trinity of exceptional stars: Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin.

I’m into the last 20 minutes of it but I can’t see how they could possibly destroy the power contained in the work up to now!

Is Christopher Walken going to kill his best friend, Al Pacino, as his mob boss has ordered him to?

Or will he help him flee?

Or will Pacino insist on dying because to not die?! We just learned that the mob boss will have Christopher Walken’s daughter, whom we know by now, murdered, if Pacino isn’t dead by 10 AM!

We are now near the end, closing in on 10 AM?!

Pacino finds a Catholic confessional.

The very young priest in it is hardly helpful.

Pacino, yes, “tips” him and ends his brief time in the confessional after sixty years of gangster life.

What makes this film so irresistible?

For one, the indisputable artistry of the three stars. They are magic together!

The lean power and tragi-comic balance within the script.

The directorial simplicity and clarity of the film.

Finally, in light of the embarrassing loss of money when distributed – 5-million-dollar-profit from a 15-million-dollar-investment?

The indictment that must go to an army of critics who clearly did not make this must-see classic a “must-see”!

They break into a clothing store to get Pacino dressed up for his death!
After punching out and wounding a couple of thugs sent to kill Pacino themselves, Walken suggests that Pacino wear a new black suit instead of the other suits he looks at!

Before we know it?!

Both are dressed most classically in two black suits!

They are, now, a most impressive looking pair of men!!

It is “TIME”!

However, we next see the pair walking on the street!

They suddenly stop walking and embrace, despite their fears of looking-at-all homosexual.

Without knowing what might have happened to Pacino, we see the waitress we all fell in love with and for whom Walken left a note at the restaurant, in Walken’s, that, yes, artist’s apartment!

The note obviously sent her there!

She’s seen his most recent painting and is now on the phone with Walken.

Has she always known he was her father?!

She’s tearing up.

He tells her there is a gift for her in one of the apartment’s closets!

There, after taking the box down and opening it, is a huge assortment of cash and a note!

Walken has apparently introduced himself to her as her grandfather!

Calling him “grandpa” amidst her tears?!

After he hangs up, we turn with him to see Pacino again.

While walking back to what we think would be Walken’s car, Pacino says, “You’re sure you want to do this? You can change your mind, ya know!”

“I know,” says Walken, “but I won’t!”

The two then pull out two pistols and start firing at guess what and guess who?!

A building in which both the man who called the hit on Pacino and his mobsters are firing back!!!

The final shots from our, yes, “anti-heroes”, are so far off target, we know they’ve been hit and will die.

We don’t see them die!


Because deep inside us, and deep inside the very good writers, no one wants to ever see them dead!

In short, a perfectly flawless film. ESR

Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor who starred in the landmark television series Law and Order from 1990 to 1994. His recent film and TV credits include The Yellow Wallpaper, 12 Hours to Live, Santa Baby and Deadly Skies. Contact Michael at rainbowfamily2008@shaw.ca. He can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/@MGMoriarty




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