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Cop And A Half

Cop And A Half

cophalf1

Today’s feature is the much-maligned buddy cop comedy, Cop And A Half.

Cop and A Half was written by Arne Olsen, who also penned the films Red Scorpion and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie. The film was directed by actor Henry Winkler, who is best known for playing The Fonz on the show Happy Days. However, he has also featured in films and television shows like Scream, Arrested Development, Night Shift, and The Waterboy.

The cinematographer for the film was Bill Butler, who has shot such movies as Jaws, Grease, Rocky IV, Anaconda, Child’s Play, The Conversation, and Frailty over his career.

Cop And A Half has three credited editors: Daniel P. Hanley (Jonah Hex, Apollo 13, Cocoon, Willow, Night Shift), C. Timothy O’Meara (Hoosiers, My Science Project, The Last Starfighter), and Roger Tweten, who was an assistant editor on Splash and Night Shift.

The producers on Cop And A Half were Tova Laiter (The Scarlet Letter, Varsity Blues), Elaine Hall, and Paul Maslansky (Police Academy).

The musical score for Cop And A Half was composed by Alan Silvestri, who also provided the music for such films as Van Helsing, Volcano, Judge Dredd, Forrest Gump, Super Mario Bros., Predator 2, Mac And Me, and The Abyss.

The team of effects workers on the movie included Jay Cannistraci (The Substitute, Rocky V), Marie Del Russo (Summer Rental, Porky’s II), Brian McManus (Striptease, Boogie Nights), Ken Gorrell (Transformers, Eight Legged Freaks, Deja Vu), Ray O. Hardesty (Ghost Dad, Bad Boys), Richard Lee Jones (2 Fast 2 Furious), Bruce E. Merlin (Speed 2, Mr Nanny, Cutthroat Island), and Richard Scioli (The Substitute, The Last of the Mohicans).

The cast for Cop And A Half was made up of Burt Reynolds (Shark, Deliverance, Stroker Ace, Boogie Nights), Ruby Dee (American Gangster, Baby Geniuses), Holland Taylor (Legally Blonde, The Truman Show), Ray Sharkey (Wired), Frank Sivero (Goodfellas), Rocky Giordani (Maniac Cop), Marc Macaulay (Killer Joe), and newcomer child actor Norman Golden II.

Photo by Moviestore Collection/REX (1557365a)

Cop And A Half proved to be the final acting role for Ray Sharkey, who died of AIDS shortly after he completed the movie in 1993. The character actor was only 40 years old at the time of his death.

Apparently, Cop And A Half was initially proposed as a sequel to the Arnold Schwarzenegger comedy Kindergarten Cop, but was ultimately rewritten so that it could stand alone.

Cop And A Half made just over $40 million in its worldwide theatrical release, though I wasn’t able to find any estimates on the production budget. Regardless, it was certainly profitable on the whole. However, critics and audiences alike loathed the movie, earning it a 3.8 rating on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes scores of 17% (critics) and 35% (audience).

The child is way too obnoxious and precocious, which seems to be the entire crux of the movie’s premise. Unfortunately, it just winds up being infinitely grating as opposed to charming or silly, not unlike the Baby Geniuses flicks.

The flip side of the annoying child performance by Norman Golden II is Burt Reynolds, who I thought was actually pretty great given the circumstances. Most of the scenes of him threatening the child come off as hilariously inappropriate, and he never softens on his tough0nosed attitude throughout the film.

There are a couple of odd sequences in this film that have contributed to it being at the very least memorable. First off, there is one scene where Burt Reynolds and the child go to a seedy biker bar, and the kid orders a milk “in a dirty glass.” Second, and more infamously, there is an inexplicable sequence where Burt Reynolds starts urinating in a toilet while the child is brushing his teeth, at which point the kid insists they play “swords,” and proceeds to pee on his shoes. That bit is about as awkward and unfunny as it sounds.

Overall, the biggest issue with Cop And A Half is the “Half”: the child character played by Golden. The kid is written badly, performed badly, and is generally a nuisance to have on screen. Unfortunately, the child makes up the lion’s share of the movie, but it is worth noting that the other elements here aren’t all that terrible. Burt Reynolds is pretty solid as a bitter veteran cop, Ray Sharkey is entertaining as the flamboyant villain, and the plot (while complete nonsense) at least serves to keep the ball rolling throughout the run time. It is kind of a shame that Winkler gave up on directing features after this, because I don’t see the issues with this movie as being particularly his fault. He’s done a little bit of television directing over the years, but it looks like Cop And A Half will remain the capstone for film directing career.

This is a very difficult movie to recommend. Personally, I can’t stand bad child acting, and would normally advise avoiding any feature that has a bad child actor in a lead role. Cop And A Half, however, was almost redeemed for me based on its “WTF” value: Burt Reynolds screaming threats at the shitty kid, the ludicrous plot, and the few moments that tread into the outlandishly bizarre make this at least a somewhat entertaining watch, in spite of the awful lead.

Water Foul: Shark

Shark

shark

Today, I’m going to take a look at 1969’s infamous Samuel Fuller movie, Shark.

Shark was directed and co-written by Samuel Fuller, who is known for such films as White Dog and The Big Red One. The other co-writer on the flick was John Dugan, who had an assortment of obscure television writing credits over his career.

The story of Shark is based loosely on the novel “His Bones Are Coral” by Victor Canning, who also famously wrote the source material for Alfred Hitchcock’s Family Plot.

shark3The cinematographer for Shark was Raul Martinez Solares, who shot such Santa Claus, Night of the Bloody Apes, and a number of Santo movies among his astounding 278 career cinematography credits.

The editor on the film was Carlos Savage, who also cut such films as Simon of the Desert, Los Olvidados, and The Exterminating Angel.

The cast for Shark includes Burt Reynolds (Deliverance, At Long Last Love, Gator, Cop & 1/2, Stroker Ace), Enrique Lucero (The Shark Hunter, The Wild Bunch), Barry Sullivan (Earthquake, Planet of the Vampires, The Bad and The Beautiful), Silvia Pinal (The Exterminating Angel), and Arthur Kennedy (Lawrence of Arabia, Elmer Gantry).

shark4The story of Shark follows a gun-runner played by Burt Reynolds who becomes stranded after losing his cargo off the shore of Sudan. He winds up being hired to salvage and plunder a ship lost in nearby shark-infested waters as attempt to cover his losses, but the trek puts him in even greater peril than he would have expected.

Alternate titles for this flick included Caine, Man-Eater, and Shark! (with an emphasized exclamation). The movie went through a number of name changes after a stuntman was attacked and killed on camera by a supposedly sedated shark, which was distastefully used by producers to promote the film. Samuel Fuller decided to quit the production because of the tragic death being used as an advertising gimmick. Fuller even tried to take his name off of the final release of the film, but to no avail.

shark2Shark certainly isn’t a beloved movie: it currently holds a 4.4 rating on IMDb, alongside a 30% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. The fact that the producers used a tragic death during the production to promote the film almost certainly left a bitter taste in many viewers mouths, much as it did Fuller.

It is kind of surreal to see Burt Reynolds so young on film, and without his iconic mustache. He is certainly handsome, but has more of a Marlon Brando, old Hollywood look to him that I just don’t associate with Burt Reynolds’s appearance as we think of him in the public consciousness. While he had been on television a bit already in shows like Gunsmoke and Hawk, 1969 was really when he started taking on lead roles in feature films. Apart from Shark, he also popped up in Sam Whiskey and 100 Rifles that year, which primed him to show up in the higher profile films Deliverance and Fuzz in 1972. The combination of those two movies put him solidly in the public consciousness as a movie star, and his career blossomed from there (at least until Cop & 1/2, that is).

I watched this movie on a secondhand VHS, because this is not an easy flick to come by. However, the drawback is that the quality of the copy was garbage, and wasn’t able to tell if the tape or the actual source film was the issue. Regardless, the movie that I watched didn’t look very good from a quality standpoint, though the shots were certainly not incompetently put together (they are even pretty great at times).

The infamous shark wrestling sequences are really eerie to watch, as supposedly they kept the footage in that killed the stunt worker. It is pretty clear from watching the footage that they were not taking adequate precautions, much like with the similar sequences in The Shark Hunter. To understate it immensely, the experience is uncomfortable.

Silvia Pinal, who appears as Reynolds’s love interest in Shark, is absolutely fantastic in the movie, and her chemistry with Reynolds is through the roof. Apparently, she is an acclaimed Mexican stage and film actress, and appeared in a number of acclaimed films by Luis Bunuel in the early 1960s: The Exterminating Angel, Simon of the Desert, and Viridiana.

shark5Overall, Shark feels like a good movie that could have been. From what I have read, Fuller leaving the production meant the movie was left in the hands of the producing team for post-production and editing, where it was hacked quite badly. Combined with the the poor physical quality of the film, the totally serviceable acting and directing in the film is tragically totally wasted. This is the sort of movie that bothers me more than any other: a project with immense potential that wound up missing the mark for reasons beyond the creative vision. You could almost describe it as heartbreaking.

Mostly because this was such a massive pain to dig up, I can’t really recommend going through the trouble of digging this movie up. If you are a huge Burt Reynolds fan, it might be worth seeing some of his early work, but otherwise, the trivia behind the movie is the most interesting aspect of it, and that doesn’t require actually watching it.