I'm continuing my Holiday weekend film festival of crime movies I've alwasy meant to see, but have somehow missed. Last night, I finally got around to THE OUTFIT, writer-director John Flynn's 1973 adaptation of the Richard Stark novel. Robert Duvall played Parker (renamed Macklin) and, while he doesn't match my vision of the character, I was surprised by how much I liked his take on the role (previously portrayed by Lee Marvin in POINT BLANK). I don't remember the book well enough to notice where the movie deviated from it, but Flynn certainly captured the stripped-down essence of Stark's prose very well. THE OUTFIT is essentially a revenge movie, with a few robberies thrown in, but I found it lean, mean, and deceptively well-crafted in its simplicity. Flynn's straight-forward directing style reminds me of Don Siegel's films…and, like Siegel, he has a great eye for casting, using familiar character actors in colorful supporting roles. I especially enjoyed Joe Don Baker as Cody, Macklin's affable but deadly partner in ripping off a bunch of The Outfit's gambling operations, and Karen Black brought surprising depth and emotion to what otherwise might have been a thankless role as Macklin's girlfriend (and I say this as a guy who has never liked Karen Black).
3 thoughts on “The Outfit”
Don Westlake always said that he really liked this movie, that Duvall was much closer to Parker than anybody else and that he enjoyed seeing all those B movie actors in the picture. I agree. Duvall’s quiet, considered performance is how I picture Parker. He’s stayed alive not just by violence but by taking stock of every dangerous situation he encounters. John Flynn should have had a much bigger career. He did some good stuff.
Please tell me you have this on DVD or VHS. Hell if I can get it on Beta I’ll find a machine to watch it on.
A favorable article on Donald E. Westlake’s work appears in the 12/14/09 issue of the Weekly Standard, posted today.
As of now, you can read only the first few paragraphs of the article unless you’re a subscriber. Often that restriction gets relaxed later in the week.