Thursday, January 24, 2013

Parker: The Split (1968)

Countdown to PARKER - The Split.

The 2000 edition of Secrets Of Action Screenwriting used this film as an example - but it was cut from the revised version to make room for a better film example to illustrate the point. THE SPLIT (1968) is based on a Richard Stark novel, and is the third MGM movie from the Parker series - and none of them use the name Parker. First we had Lee Marvin as Walker, later Robert Duvall as Macklin in THE OUTFIT, and now Big Jim Brown as McClain in THE SPLIT (based on the book THE SEVENTH). In this one they rob the box office from a football game - and that's the plot of the movie as well.

Okay, now get this cast: Jim Brown, Diahann Carroll (first African American star of her own TV series), Ernest Borgnine, Julie Harris, Gene Hackman, Jack Klugman, Warren Oates, Donald Sutherland, James Whitmore, and Bart Starr and the Greenbay Packers vs. the Los Angeles Rams!

In the film, the robbery goes great - except for the wrinkle of racism which tears it all apart. In SECRETS OF ACTION, I used it as an example of an action film about social issues. The screenwriter who adapted it, Robert Sabaroff, called me after he read the book and we had a great phone conversation. I wish I would have recorded it or at least took notes, he passed away in 2007. He was a TV writer - THE VIRGINIAN, BONANZA, STAR TREK (Shatner!), THE INVADERS, THE EQUALIZER, and STAR TREK: TNG (Stewart!) - this was his only produced film credit. Same producers as POINT BLANK, by the way. Though the script isn't perfect - way too obvious with its racism angle - it has some great scenes and you can't beat that cast! Just seeing all of these guys as the team members in the planning scenes is a treat.

The Parker series of novels are great, and now we're getting Jason Statham as Parker in a new film - which is great casting. THE SPLIT was not available on DVD until now - Warner Archives just released it. I have a VHS copy somewhere.

Warner Archives also has THE OUTFIT.

- Bill




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