Before Vin Diesel mounted up a Mitsubishi in the The Fast and the Furious franchise and before Jason Statham slid into the cockpit of a BMW for Luc Beeson’s The Transporter franchise, there was George C. Scott (The Changling) in this Richard Fleischer-directed (Fantastic Voyage! The New Centurions! Soylent Green! Mr. Majestyk! . . . The Jazz Singer?, Amityville 3-D?) crime-drama concerned with Scott’s aging American career criminal that once a drove for Chicago’s organized crime rings now living in self-imposed exile in a southern Portugal fishing village.
He comes out of a nine-year retirement to drive an escaped killer Paul Rickard (Tony Musante of The Bird with the Crystal Plumage) and Rickard’s girlfriend (Trish Van Devere) across Portugal and Spain into France. The police — and Harry’s former mobster cronies — follow in hot pursuit.
On the press junkets, Scott said that, for the longest time, he was looking for a Bogart-like meaty part, and he took The Last Run because it was an “an old fashioned adventure picture with a kind of a ‘Bogart part,’ featuring the lonely, separated man trying to make a comeback. It’s the sort of thing that people can enjoy.”
Guess what. No one enjoy it. My dad did: he liked its The French Connection-cum-Bullit vibe. Critics, such as Roger Ebert, pounced on the film and pontificated that it would have been better that if John Huston, the original director, hadn’t dropped out. That, without Huston’s touch, Scott ended up in a Hemingway imitation instead of an actual Hemingway adaptation.
So nostalgia mileage may vary. If you dug Gene Hackman in The French Connection and the Roy Scheider knockoff The Seven Ups, you’ll dig The Last Run with Scott — even if it fails as a Hemmingway homage. But it’s certainly a hell of a lot better than seeing John Wayne in McQ attempting to out “bullet” Steve McQueen in Bullit.
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