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Sitting Target


Bring me the head of Jill St. John!

Rod Lott September 19th, 2012

In the case of 1972's Sitting Target, the title refers to Pat Lomart (Jill St. John, Diamonds Are Forever), the wife of rough and rugged Harry (Oliver Reed, Gladiator). The opening scene finds her visiting him behind bars, where he's being held for murder. Since he's liable to get 15 years, she can't wait for him, so she's filing for divorce.

sittingtarget

Oh, and she's preggo. It's not his.

That revelation causes Harry to bust through the glass that separates them so he can get his paws around her neck. It's an indication that this not-so-ordinary crime tale intends to do the same to audiences. In its day, I'm sure it did, being the first British film to earn an X rating for violence alone. By today's standards, however, it'd get an R.

Still, Harry has such a nasty streak in him, which he aims to exercise as hard and often as possible, that Sitting Target stands as a somewhat unique experience. The first third details his and his cohort's (Ian McShane, Snow White and the Huntsman) escape from prison so he can go Pat-hunting. He may find her quicker than I would've expected, but director Douglas Hickox (Sky Riders, Theatre of Blood) doesn't necessarily allow him to abscond with her so soon. There are too many chases and double-crosses to let play out.

The story's brutal nature seems to have manifested itself in every fiber of Reed's performance; the guy is one mean bastard. Sitting Target's purposeful ugliness is sold with help from a warbly electronic score by Stanley Myers (The Deer Hunter). This one's available manufactured on demand from Warner Archive. —Rod Lott

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