All too true. So at the risk of sounding snobbish, let me start by saying that this gem boasts three terrific actors---even by British standards---Johh Hurt, Terence Stamp and, in his film debut, Tim Roth.
Can't ask for better.
Story by Peter Prince, directed by Stephen Frears; a few years before he became a major name with 'Dangerous Liasons.'
So far, so good. Now here's the tough part: What's the film about?
At first it seems simple enough. A small time gangster (Stamp) has grassed , or as we say in America, squealed on his cohorts. Having turned state's witness, he's let off the hook and proceeds to hide out in a small village in Spain. Ten years later the gang is out of prison, they've discovered his whereabouts and sent their top hit man (Hurt) and his eager hooligan apprentice (Roth) to kidnap and bring him to Paris where they intend to execute him in front of The Boss. If anything goes wrong, they're to kill him immediately.
So much goes wrong that some professional reviewers listed the genre of this film as 'Comedy'
Er... way off base, though it does have some very funny moments. The greatest complication in the list of what goes wrong is Maggie, a 15 year old (or is she?) Spanish babe, which they end up having to take along for the ride , played by the actress Laura del Sol.
An appropiate name since this noir film is brightly scorched by the Spanish sun. An intended thematic point. Hurt and Del Sol are passionate animals, fighting for life.
On the other hand, Stamp, who has known for ten years that death at the hands of the mob was inevitable has spent his time preparing for his demise by " Reading wonderfull things."
He appears to have transformed himself from petty thief into another Socrates. Death, he tells us is 'as natural as breathing.' Far from making any attempt at escape, he infuriates Hurt by helping him along--fixing his car when it breaks down, for example.
Is he real or full of it?--Or as they say in England " You mouth! "
Great ending, which I won't give away, may (?) answer the question.
Yes it is Film Noir, yes it's a gangster film but --No I'm NOT going to tell you that it 'transcends the genre ' that's a dumb cliche. The story uses the plot device of a hit man ( speaking of dumb cliches perhaps the most annoyingly prevalent around these days--every year there's a dozen 'hit men' flicks) and turns it spectacularly on its head into a superb story with phenomenal characters.
Anyway, if you don't mind Pan & Scan, by all means, check this one out. Heck, I'll sell you mine, cheap.
Having never seen this film, I was extremely excited to see that it was to be released on DVD finally...until I noticed that Artisan was going to release it. Sure enough, Artisan has done it again, offering The Hit in a pan & scan format. Surely this is not an action cheapie, and as such deserves better treatment than Artisan is putting out.
If you don't care about format, ignore my review. If you do care, I suggest that you be careful buying any Artisan DVDs, as they are releasing loads of P & S titles these days.
Would someone in authority please advise Artisan to raise their price point and release these films in a double-sided disc offering both formats, a la Warner Brothers?