Obviously not the greatest movie ever made by legendary filmmaker John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate, Ronin), I still can’t help but be fascinated by the comic-book-inspired insanity of his odd-ball curiosity 99 and 44/100% Dead. Released in 1974 and starring Richard Harris as a love-struck hit-man caught in the middle of an escalating gang war, the film was written by Robert Dillon (the phenomenal Prime Cut from director Michael Ritchie, and the massively undervalued The French Connection II, also directed by Frankenheimer), and has a tone that veers all over the place, and features bad-guys with guns and knives attached to prosthetic limbs, some crazy car chase/stunt work, and a general vibe of “anything can happen” that allows the film to be exceedingly entertaining if a bit sloppy around the edges.
Henry Mancini’s wild musical score meshed with the sometimes frantic camerawork by Ralph Woolsey; Harold Kress’s choppy editing may have been by design. I can think of very few other films that match this effort’s overall sense of manic energy, and while coherent, there’s something simply bizarre about the entire production that should speak to cult film enthusiasts everywhere. And yes, apparently the film’s title is a play on the old Ivory soap commercial slogan. This is a completely wild piece of work that has a distinct personality, which can’t be said for most genre fare. Available on DVD from Shout! Factory as a double-dip with The Nickel Ride (rager coming soon for that one…!)
Review by Nick Clement