Saturday, December 4, 2021

Pocket Money

Lee Marvin (I think) was one of the people honored in TCM's Summer Under the Stars this past August. That gave me the opportunity to record a movie I hadn't seen before, Pocket Money. Having recently watched it, now is the time for the post on it.

Although Marvin has nominal top billing, the real star here is Paul Newman. Newman plays Jim Kane, a modern-day rancher living in Arizona near the border with Mexico. However, he hasn't been very successful, with an ex-wife and a bunch of odd jobs to show for it. Indeed, he tries to buy a bunch of horses, but the sale goes sour when they're found to be diseased and forced to quarantine.

While trying to deal with a possible extension on his loans, he runs into Stretch Russell (Wayne Rogers). Stretch represents another man, shady Bill Garrett (Strother Martin), and offers Jim money to go down to Mexico and drive a bunch of cattle north. Jim ought to have qualms about the deal, but he needs the money, so he heads off to Mexico.

It's in Mexico that he runs into Leonard (that's Lee Marvin), who is in Mexico for whatever reasons. It doesn't much matter to the plot, just that Leonard is as down on his luck as Jim. The result is that the two team up to do the job. Of course, as two Americans in a foreign land, they're going to run into all sorts of difficulties, not helped out by the fact that Stretch and Bill are looking for a way to fleece them.

On the way to do the job, Jim and Leonard have a bunch of mishaps, which results in Jim having to spend a bit of time in a Mexican prison and Leonard having to sell Jim's truck in a deal that also seems to be rather shady. Eventually they find the cattle that they're supposed to move north, but they don't have enough money to pay for transporting them for the last portion of the journey by rail. And they may not be able to get the money from Stretch and Bill....

Pocket Money is quite a bit of a mess, mostly because the plot does little more than amble on. In fact, it would be easy enough to say that the movie is more a series of vignettes than a fully-fleshed out plot, even if that's not quite the case. Newman and Marvin are both more than capable actors, and they both try their best, but the material is rather thin here, which really brings the movie down.

I'm sorry that I can't say all that much good about Pocket Money, but there it is. It's had a DVD release courtesy of the Warner Archive, but it's the sort of movie I'd wait to see show up on TCM again before watching it. As always, though, make your own judgment about the movies I give poor reviews to.


thevoid99 said...

Isn't that the movie written or co-written by Terrence Malick?

Ted S. (Just a Cineast) said...

Yes; Malick is credited as Terry Malick.