Tony Mastroianni Review Collection
"Anderson Tapes" seems unsure of which direction to unwind
Cleveland Press July 24, 1971
"The Anderson Tapes" is a crime caper movie which never quite makes up its mind whether it is suspense it is after or laughs.
And while the movie might have been a comment on our surveillance prone bugged society, the whole business of eavesdropping is more an adjunct to the story than it is a story telling device.
SEAN CONNERY is cast as Duke Anderson, ex-con, newly released after lO years in prison for safe cracking.
Anderson is under constant surveillance, not because he is Duke Anderson, ex-con, but because he wanders in and out of places and among people who are being watched for one reason or another.
His first stop is at the bedroom of his mistress (Dyan Cannon) which has been bugged by her boy friend, the one who pays the rent
His conversations with AIan King, a Mafia-type leader, are of interest to Internal Revenue; his visit to a black criminal whose help he wants on a job is observed by detectives watching a Black Panther headquarters; his meeting with an old jail friend, a kid sent up on drug charges, is monitored by narcotics detectives.
AND SO IT GOES-microphones strapped to the leg of a waiter, hidden in a nurse's fountain pen, stuck under a car or aimed from an adjoining building.
To all of these groups he is simply an unidentified male, not the person of interest. If all their tapes had been put together someone might have known of the tremendous heist he is planning.
He hopes to empty not one or two apartments but an entire apartment building, one of the luxury type with wealthy tenants.
By way of tapes, movie clips, flashbacks and flash forwards we see bits and pieces of Anderson's plan. But not all or even most of it is told this way. Most of the story is conventional movie fare.
MOST OF THIS is played pretty broadly by Connery and company. Miss Cannon
has a small role in what is becoming almost a stock characterization for her. Martin Balsam seems to have fun as a fag decorator and AIan King gestures grandly as a mobster turned respectable.
Director Sydney Lumet makes the intricate plotting reasonably clear and the police counter-plans are interestingly depicted though with an odd straining for laughter.
"Anderson Tapes" strives hard and with little reason to be one of the new, frank movies. Rough language, extremely rough language has been used in "Carnal Knowledge" and "McCabe and Mrs. Miller," to mention two current examples. The language is generally in character.
The characters in "Anderson Tapes" would undoubtedly use some of the language they utter, but it is overdone, never essential to either characterization or story but merely gratuitous. In short, it sounds phony and commercial.