The Getaway (1994) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

The Getaway (1972) from Tuna

Scoop's comments on the 1994 version:

What a treasure we lost when Richard Farnsworth died, and what a shame that it took us so long to figure out what he could bring to a movie. Oh, I know that he finally got an Oscar nomination, and he probably would have won one if he could have lived a couple more years, but his career progress was a mite slow. What was he, an overnight sensation at age 90?

I can't think of many character actors who could change the entire tone of a movie just with a brief appearance. In this film he didn't even appear until the last ten minutes, but from that point on he just took over the screen and made it his movie. Cripe, he actually made the thing worth watching, and that wasn't easy, because it's a formula movie which is basically nothing but shoot-outs, sex, and car chases. But after watching him for a couple minutes, I actually smiled a couple of times!

Pre-Farnsworth, it's standard escapist fare from the big book of movie clichés. Alec Baldwin plays the best crook in the world. He gets set up on a deal and goes to jail. Kim Basinger plays his wife, who works a deal to get Baldwin out. It's not a very complicated deal. It mostly consists of giving blowjobs to James Woods, who exudes his usual serpentine smarm as some kind of powerful mover and shaker. The condition for Baldwin's release, in addition to the obligatory ongoing blowjobs, is that Baldwin must pull off another kind of  job for Woods. Woods, of course, intends to double-cross both of them, because that's what James Woods always does in every movie. If you play his mom in a film, chances are pretty good he'll bilk you out of your Social Security. To make matters more complicated, one of Baldwin's gang was planning to double-cross both Woods and Baldwin. I think. Anyway, Baldwin triple-crosses the guy who intended to double-cross him, whereupon Basinger shoots James Woods. Baldwin and Basinger promptly set off for El Paso, thence to freedom in Mexico. One of the official rules of bad screenwriting dictates that any American criminal who reaches the Mexican border may proceed directly to a life of complete luxury, free from any further investigation.

Just before crossing into Mexico, the whole wacky gang engages in the usual cinema shoot-out in a border town, wherein about a dozen heavily armed guys blow apart an entire hotel with major artillery, and the police finally arrive after about an hour of major warfare.

When the police finally arrive and surround the building, Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin use a super top secret plan - they sneak out the back door.

I'm not kidding.

These particular police didn't really seem to understand the concept of "surrounding" a building. 

NUDITY REPORT (1994 version)

Kim Basinger is seen naked or topless in several scenes, including her pubic area, although her face and pubes are not seen together except in dark silhouette.

Jennifer Tilly has a sex scene with Michael Madsen, in which we see her breasts and buns from the side.

DVD info from Amazon, 1994 version

  • Widescreen letterboxed, 2.35:1. Below average transfer.

  • No significant features, but the DVD has one extra sex scene that was not in the r-rated theatrical release.

After they leave the hotel, Baldwin and Basinger have the good sense to leave town by hijacking Richard Farnsworth, and then that likable old geezer just does his thing. He charms and cajoles the border patrol, and wins the confidence of the crooks - and it's all completely believable. When Farnsworth is up there on the screen, you just wish your own dad could be so wise, so compassionate, so understanding of human nature, so down to earth. Farnsworth really had a special quality.

Positives: (1) I really liked both Farnsworth and Philip Seymour Hoffman in small roles. (2)  Basinger and Jennifer Tilly take off their clothes.

Negatives: everything else.

Tuna's comments on both versions in yellow:

Reviewing the re-make of The Getaway is where I prove yet again that I have no taste. I have always enjoyed this semi-comedic crime thriller. Kim Basinger won a razzie for worst actress, Ebert hated it at 1 star, and it scores 0% at Rotten Tomatoes from the top critics. I think it is more a matter of how you see the film. As a crime thriller, it is laughable. Then again, as a comedy, it is laughable, but that is a good thing.

Basically, Alec Baldwin is a master thief and all around tough guy. Basinger is his main squeeze. He is double-crossed by Michael Madsen and ends up in a Mexican jail. Basinger uses all her assets to "talk" a crime bigwig into using his influence to get him out. The condition is that Baldwin will work for him, and his partner is, you guessed it, Madsen. After the big robbery of a dog track, Baldwin and Basinger have the money, most of the gang are dead, and a wounded Madsen is trailing them. In the course of his pursuit, the bloodthirsty Madsen kidnaps a veterinarian and his wife (Jennifer Tilly).

The Getaway (1972) is the original version of the film. Replace Jennifer Tilly with Sally Struthers, Kim Basinger with Ali MacGraw, and Alec Baldwin with Steve McQueen, and you pretty much have the idea. Were you to storyboard the two versions side by side, there would be far more agreement than change. The changes favor the 1994 version.

  • In the original, McQueen gets a Texas parole board to reverse a decision because his wife screws a powerful local crook, and promises that McQueen will rob a bank for him. In the newer version, Baldwin is in jail in Mexico, and Basinger convinces a crime guy to use his influence to spring him for a huge race track heist. The new version makes more sense.

  • In the original, some expositional scenes were very slow and deliberate so that the audience wouldn't get lost. The same listless scenes were shortened in the new version.

  • The remake includes far more sex and nudity.

  • McQueen's character had no personality in the 1972 version. Blame that on some bad writing and directing which gave one of my favorite actors nothing to work with in developing a character.

  • MacGraw's 1972 lines were full of dated slang, which sound very dated indeed.

  • The supporting characters were far more colorful in the 1994 version.

Given those points, I can't understand why the original is rated 7.3 of 10 at IMDb, while the remake is at 5.5.

DVD info from Amazon, 1972 version

  • Widescreen and full screen versions.

  • No significant features.

NUDITY REPORT. (1972 version)

Ali MacGraw showed her breasts from the side, with two nipple sightings.

Sally Struthers also showed her breasts from the side, although her nipples stayed in hiding.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus, 1994 version: one and a half stars. Ebert 1/4, Maltin 2/4.

  • MTV nominated Kim Basinger for "Most desirable female" for her role in teh re-make, while the Razzies nominated her as "worst actress"

The People Vote ...

  • With their dollars ... The re-make was a dud, taking in $16 million domestically. The original was phenomenally profitable, grossing $26 million in 1972, compared to only $3 million in production costs.

IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, Scoop says, "C- for the re-make. Typical genre picture, reasonably competent but trite and uninspired". Tuna says "Even though I find it entertaining, the proper score for the re-make is D+. It is technically competent, but few enjoy it. Call it a C- for the 1972 version. I love McQueen, and also heist action films, and this one was only marginally watchable for me."

Return to the Movie House home page