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High Stakes Movie Review

kirkland actress richard lynch

Without that cast, High Stakes would be just fair. It's the old story (by Amos Kollek, son of Teddy, then Jerusalem's mayor) of a hooker named Bambi (Sally Kirkland) who meets a John (Robert LuPone) who falls in love with her and helps her break free from her pimp, Slim (Richard Lynch). But it does have that cast, which elevates this film a full notch. Sally Kirkland is a superb actress who has been marginalized within the industry, because of the many blue plays and movies on her resume, and then, even after she won an Academy Award nomination for best actress in Anna, because of her age. It is so unfair it makes me want to scream!… Thanks, I needed that. The range of emotions on Kirkland's face gives much, much more to this film than is in the script. We see her as a victim, a mother fighting like a tigress for her cub, a seductress, and, throughout it all, a human being who isn't afraid to act on her feelings, despite a staggeringly unlucky life. Robert LuPone gives a terrific performance as John Stratton, lucky at work, unlucky at everything else. His best moments come when, with a frozen face and every emotion melting out of his pores, he initiates a deadly game of Russian Roulette. Richard Lynch, who once played the Vampire Anton Voytek, is creepier than ever, and he really earns his paycheck here by injecting stock dialogue with menacing conviction. Plus! As an extra added bonus for Buffy and Misery devotees: Sarah (Michelle) Gellar, then small for her age at 12, plays Karen, Bambi's brown-haired eight-year-old daughter with the same wide-eyed appeal that would make her a ‘90s icon as an Emmy winner and a Vampire Slayer. Kathy Bates, a year away from a Best Actress Oscar, plays Jill, the sort of loyal, straight-talking secretary that was once Eve Arden's specialty. Kirkland pours herself into the skin tight costumes of Ida Gearon that somehow seem superfluous when she unleashes her magnetic charisma as an actress. Note: The Trimark video I watched appears to have been cut by 16 minutes, based on the original running time. AKA: Melanie Rose.

1989 (R) 102m/C Sally Kirkland, Robert LuPone, Richard Lynch, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Kathy Bates, W.T. Martin, Eddie Earl Hatch, Betty Miller, Maia Danzinger, Jesse Corti, Samantha Louca, Larry Block, June Stein, Michael Steinhardt, Maggie Warner, William Kennedy; D: Amos Kollek; W: Amos Kollek; C: Marc Hirschfeld; M: Bob Dylan, Mira Spektor. VHS, LV

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