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'Alligator' shocks, but supplies more wit than gore By Larry Kart LAST SATURDAY afternoon at the Chicago Theater, as one of the characters in "Alligator" calmly went about the business of being an innocent victim, puttering puttering around in a big-city big-city big-city sewer system system while the title reptile approached approached bini from the rear at high speed, one young man in the audience audience turned to his seatmate and gleefully shouted: "He's gone . . . let me tell you!" In one sense, that is all the review "Alligator" needs. A so-called so-called so-called "exploitation "exploitation picture," it is designed to shock us as efficiently as possible, functioning in ways that would seem to have little to do with either craft or art. But while "He's gone ... let me tell you!" is the response director Lewis Teague was aiming for, "Alligator" "Alligator" works so well, obeying the laws of cinematic suspense and supplying supplying more wit than gore, that its pleasures deserve further comment. The plot is based on the old question: question: "What happens to the baby alligators alligators that get flushed down the toilet after they turn out to be unsatisfactory unsatisfactory pets?" In this case, after many years beneath the streets, one of those animated handbags has survived. survived. And, thanks to a steady diet of hormone-doped hormone-doped hormone-doped dogs that have been dumped into the sewers by a laboratory that conducts illegal experiments, experiments, it has grown quite large. "HOW LARGE?" you might ask. Well, after the gator pops through a sidewalk and begins to waltz around the city, one young witness answers that question quite satisfyingly. "You know an El Dorado?" he says . . . and then, after a moment's reflection, reflection, "Of course, you gotta add the tail." Obviously, this is a comedy as well as a monster flick; and Teague gets amusing performances out of Robert Forster and Robin Riker. He is ,the cop who masterminds the gator hunt, and she is a reptile expert who also happens to be the woman who, as a little girl, owned this particular beast until her daddy flushed it in a fit of pique. Best known for his work on the "Banyon" TV series, Forster is a master at portraying a frustrated, self-mocking self-mocking self-mocking macho figure, while Riker has a pneumatic but wry sexiness. sexiness. And there is an excellent villain villain (Dean Jagger), the head of the chemical firm whose discarded lab animals have turned the gator into an angry giant. LIKE KING KONG, this beast Is half a hero or, at the very least, a much put-upon put-upon put-upon creature and "Alligator" gives him his full measure measure of revenge. Having emerged from the sewers to roam the streets, he then slides into a drainage canal and meanders towards Jagger suburban suburban estate, where a sumptuous wedding party is in progress. The aroma of charcoal-broiled charcoal-broiled charcoal-broiled steaks serves as the gator's invitation; invitation; and after dining on a smorgas-board smorgas-board smorgas-board of maids, butlers, and wedding guests, he uses his tail to batter Jag-ger's Jag-ger's Jag-ger's Cadillac, with Jagger inside, into into a sheet-metal sheet-metal sheet-metal accordion. Fast paced, satisfyingly compact in plot, and spiced with some offhandedly offhandedly sly dialog, "Alligator" is about as entertaining as a film of its type can be. You may want to close your eyes at times, but you should enjoy what you see. Rating for "Alligator," three stars. YOU ALSO MAY want to close your eyes during "The Immortal' Bachelor" not because this Italian sex-comedy, sex-comedy, sex-comedy, currently at the Carnegie Carnegie Theater, contains anything shocking but because it is so dull. Starring Giancarlo Giannini, Monica Monica Vitti, Claudia Cardinale, and Vit-torio Vit-torio Vit-torio Gassman, this 1973-vintage 1973-vintage 1973-vintage film enjoying, if that's the word, its first American release concerns a woman (Vitti) on trial for murdering her unfaithful but supersexy husband (Giannini). As the plot unravels with mind-boggling mind-boggling mind-boggling ineptitude, the sole point of interest Is the change time has wrought in Vitti and Cardinale. Once regarded as great beauties, both are much the worse for wear, with Vitti, whose mopiness always seemed semi-comic, semi-comic, semi-comic, looking like a blond Penny Marshall, while Cardinale, far gone into plasticity, bears a disturbing re-( re-( re-( semblance to Debbie Reynolds. Rating Rating for "The Immortal Bachelor," one star.
Clipped from Chicago Tribune, 02 Dec 1980, Tue, Page 31
02 Dec 1980, Tue • Page 31
02 Dec 1980, Tue • Page 31