Stateline Motel (1975) from ICMS

Note: This movie is also known as L'Ultima Chance (The Last Chance).

Watching Stateline Motel on DVD is a pleasant as well as an unpleasant experience. 

It's pleasant because the film is actually much better than I expected of an Italian drama/crime flick shot in Canada in the 1970s and starring Ursula Andress. It has its flaws, to be sure. The lighting and the camerawork are nothing to write home about and the editing is sloppy. There is a car chase scene in Montreal where the editor reversed the negative, so it looks like the driver is sitting on the right! Most of the actors don't put in much of a performance either, except one. And believe it or not, that one is Ursula Andress who, together with the thickening plot, keeps this film on track. She managed to grasp her role perfectly and with her subtle acting and expressions gave her character depth and nuance that it would otherwise be lacking.

The story of the film is not bad at all. It goes about as follows:


Ursula Andress shows breasts and a bit of bum

Floyd (Fabio Testi) is released from a Montreal prison after six months for car theft. He has to leave Canada within 48 hours. He immediately teams up with his old partner (Eli Wallach) and steals $1,000,000 in diamonds from a jewelry store. His partner shoots a man in the process, and to escape from the police they split up. Floyd ends up with the diamonds in a motel run by Michelle Norton's (Ursula Andress) husband near the American border. Pretty soon Michelle and her entourage suspect what's going on and decide to go after the diamonds themselves. Michelle ends up in bed with Floyd and they fall in love. Then the diamonds go missing.

Up to that point, the plot is predictable and pre-fabricated, but things start to get interesting and become more and more entangled. Did Michelle steal the diamonds, and if she did, does she still have them? And what about the others? How did the mechanic at the garage meet his maker? And what about the two local cops? And what about Floyd's partner - doesn't he want his share? Of course he does, but will he get it? Will Michelle and Floyd be able to get away with the diamonds? Or do they even have the diamonds? All this gets resolved in the final minutes and that resolution was a total surprise to me. To be honest there were a few hints that pointed to the final outcome but one only becomes aware of them after the film ends. 

DVD info from Amazon

see the main commentary to the right for a complete evaluation

As I mentioned when I started this review there was also an unpleasant experience. The DVD is simply abysmal. It must be a serious contender for the worst DVD of all times.

  • The transfer is terrible and seems to come from a worn-out VHS tape. The images are blurry and have a yellowish color dominance. I still haven't been able to figure out what the correct aspect ratio might be. The actors looked too narrow in 4:3 and too wide in 16:9.
  • And then there's the audio part. First of all it's encoded in MPEG 2 instead of Dolby Digital as should normally be on a 2002 release. But MPEG 2 can give good results, one might object. Yes, indeed, but not on this piece of trash. The sound is often cracking like on a worn-out 78 rpm  record, for those who still remember them. But the most important shortcoming is that picture and sound are not synchronized. There is a delay of such an extreme degree that when someone fires a shot you only hear it three full seconds later, like an echo in the mountains.

Needless to say that the poor image and sound quality put a real damper on my viewing pleasure.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 5.8/10 (Only 12 votes)
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even 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. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). 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. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a decent C- for the movie, but an F for the DVD.

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