Thursday, June 05, 2008

Replace 'eye' with 'hit' to rate the film Bullseye

I've just heard the sound of a barrel's bottom being scraped. According to online retailers, the 1990 film Bullseye is scheduled for release this September. Starring Michael Caine and Roger Moore, this piece of excrement is among the most dire feature films released in Britain. Five years ago I wrote a book about the movies of Michael Caine, covering everything from Zulu to The Actors. I watched all 80 movies twice. Bullseye was one of the worst.

It's unspeakably bad, a comedy without jokes, humour or any other redeeming feature. Cheap, tawdy, hapless, hopeless - none of those words encapsulate just how bad Bullseye is. Piss poor probably sums it up best. Unbelievably, John Cleese makes a cameo appearance near the end in a role entitled Man on the Beach in Barbados Who Looks Like John Cleese. That's one of the better attempts at hilarity in this steaming pile of turds. Avoid Bullseye like dysentery.

When I was working on my Caine tome, perhaps only half of the 80 films were available on DVD. The rest I had to hunt down as long out of print VHS tapes from places around the world. Several proved to be pirate copies, recorded off air from obscure cable channels in the dead of night, but flogged as genuine releases on eBay. Since I wrote the book in 2003, nearly all Caine's films have had a DVD release in various regions.

The misguided decision to unleash Bullseye on an unsuspecting public leaves just seven films out of circulation as DVDs. One of these, The Debtors, never got a cinema release after the movie's sole financial backer decided it shouldn't see the light of day - so I'm not holding my breath on that one. That leaves six. Surrender was a late 80s rom-com featuring Caine and Sally Field. It's no great shakes but entertaining enough in a slight way.

Number five? The Marseilles Contract [a.k.a. The Destructors] stars Caine and James Mason in a mid-70s Euro-pudding thriller about hitmen and the criminal underworld. It hasn't aged well, but has moments. Four: Hurry Sundown - a bizarre mess about civil rights in the Deep South, wherein Jane Fonds seeks to seduce Caine by fellating a saxophone. Believe it or not, a clip appears in Austin Powers: Goldmember. A kitsch classic that outstays its welcome.

Three: Zee & Co [a.k.a. X, Y & Zee] - a campfest from the early 70s with Caine locking swording with Elizabeth Taylor in screaming harpie mode. So naff it verges on genius. Two: The Honorary Consul [a.k.a. Beyond the Limit] - a powerful adaptation of Graham Greene's novel somewhat spoiled by the wooden presence of Richard Gere. Caine would have greater success twenty years later in The Quiet American, but this is well worth a look.

But my most wanted Caine film on DVD has to be Gambit, a charming 60s caper co-starring Shirley MacLaine and Herbert Lom. The Coen brothers were contemplating a remark earlier this decade, but opted to make a mess of The Ladykillers instead. Light as a cloud, Gambit is a cheerful confection that deserves to find a new audience on shiny disc, in my humble opinion. Why somebody would choose to excrete Bullseye on to DVD remains beyond my comprehension.


wyndham said...

The low point of Bullseye - and there are many contenders, as you know - is the hilarious dog-shagging scene.

I can only imagine that Mister Caine and Moore were only involved because of the excellent catering offer by Mister Winner.

Dave said...

Hi David. Don’t remember Bullseye. Maybe I’ve blanked it out.

Didn’t Caine himself say something along the lines of "Sometimes to maintain a high standard of living, you have to make a poor standard of movie". So I assume he had some (quite urgent) bills to pay.

Good Dog said...

Gambit isn't available on DVD? That's absolute idiocy, it's a brilliant film.