This is an excellent movie in almost any way you look at it, but it has one glaring weakness. Burt Lancaster plays a two-bit numbers runner, a man who has been a loser, a small-time hood all his life. Then, pretty much by accident, he comes into a large quantity of cocaine. Suddenly he’s in the chips, and he blossoms, dressing well and getting into a friendship with the great Susan Sarandon, in one of her earliest roles. She’s training to be a dealer in a casino … and I’m not going to go into a lot of plot detail. It has many surprises, but let’s just cut to the chase, okay? The problem is that I could not, even for a moment, accept Lancaster as a two-bit hood. This is no reflection on Mr. Lancaster’s acting ability. He is great in the part. But. He is just too vital, too alive, too full of energy. It is his cross to bear, I guess. In any part those qualities will come out. His dazzling smile, the energy with which he confronts life. Burt was a great actor, and this was one of his best roles, but ironically, he was really all wrong for it.
One thing I have to mention. The cocaine came from a semi-hippie loser who dies fairly early on. He was played by my friend Robert Joy, who I interacted with frequently when we were shooting Millennium in Toronto. He played Sherman the robot, and here’s an irony. I only saw his real face twice! Once was when he was auditioning for the part, and the other time was a chance encounter on the street. All the other times he totally disappeared beneath a ton of plastic make-up. He’s good in this (he’s been good in all the things I’ve seen him in). So that’s my Robert Joy story.