Short Cuts:’The Honeymoon Killers’ (1969)

Freaky. They refer to Albany N.Y. as ‘the big city’ here.

If you aren’t aware of the plot, it’s a late, experimental variation on noir , about 2 grifters in the Hustler-Older Woman game. For reasons that seem to make no amount of sense, real life con-artists/lovers Martha Beck and Raymond Fernandez posed as brother and sister during their scams, their schemes allowing the 200-lb. Beck to accompany Hernandez and their target on ‘dates’ as a chaperone up to and after the ‘wedding’.

It’s an odd film, with primitive camera movements, clumsy direction and stilted dialogue. Conversation and character interaction seem to be second-thought here — almost every line is exposition. describing things that are going on off-screen.

The big question is whether the director, Leonard Kastle intended that the performers ‘externalize’ the performances the way they did. In 1969, it might have been seen as revolutionary, but in 2010 it just seems mannered in an unproductive way. If he had done 10 more films like this, it might have amounted to an interesting style, like a Pinter play or Mamet film. But this was Kastle’s only screen credit and this Kastle can’t boast any relation to the other Castle of B-movie fame.

The story of Beck and Hernandez has been remade twice as ‘ Deep Crimson ‘ (1996) and ‘ Lonely Hearts (2006).

Recommended for fans of David Lynch and John Cassavettes

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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