The Big Boodle
by Jef Burnham
Now available on on-demand DVD from the MGM Limited Edition Collection.
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The Big Boodle, from director Richard Wilson (The Man with the Gun), stars Errol Flynn (The Adventures of Robin Hood) as Ned Sherwood, an American croupier in Cuba who is unwittingly drawn into an elaborate counterfeiting conspiracy after 500 pesos in counterfeit bills are passed off at his blackjack table by a beautiful woman (Rossana Rory (L’Eclisse)). With the Havana police watching his every move, Ned hurtles headlong into Cuba’s underworld in a desperate attempt to track down the forgers and prove his innocence.
What starts out as a gripping “wrong man” scenario in The Big Boodle unfortunately quickly loses its momentum as Ned begins to piece together the tedious explanation of those events that found him falsely accused of counterfeiting. You get the sense that it took everything screenwriter Jo Eisinger had just to make sense of the elaborate back story of the novel form which the film is adapted. Still, given that Eisinger had previously penned Night and the City and adapted Gilda, I had expected much, much more from The Big Boodle.
Something that is interesting in The Big Boodle, however, is that, because the film was shot on location in Havana, Cuba, it opens with a special thanks to the Cuban government. That’s something you don’t see every day in an American film.
As for the quality of the release itself, one is encouraged by a disclaimer preceding each film in the Limited Edition Collection to consider, before making any judgments, that what you are about to view on this DVD-R format disc was produced from the highest quality sources available. With that in mind, I have to say that in my experience with the Limited Edition Collection, this disclaimer is hardly ever necessary. Here, however, I’m afraid it is. The print used here is decidedly mixed in quality, varying from pristine to downright ragged, and the sound quality is incredibly poor at times. Of course, with regard to the sound, it seems to me that the problems stem not from the age of the material or flaws in MGM’s transfer, but from poor recording and mixing at the film’s production level.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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