The Drowning Pool 1976
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Private eye Lew Harper is in deep this time. Hired by an old flame to unravel a seemingly routine blackmail case, he’s so far down he may never come up for air. Paul Newman returns as the quick-witted detective he first played nine years before in Harper. A cast to reckon with joins him in this mystery based on Ross MacDonald’s novel and directed by Stuart Rosenberg (Cool Hand Luke). Joanne Woodward plays the New Orleans oil heiress who turns to Harper for help. Young Melanie Griffith is her kittenish daughter. And Tony Franciosa, Coral Browne, Andy Robinson, Murray Hamilton and more keep The Drowning Pool’s intrigue as thick as gumbo.
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Harper (Newman) gets pulled into an investigation by a former girlfriend Iris (Joanne Woodward) in Lousiana. Harper doesn't quite know what he's taken on when Iris' daughter (a teenage Melanie Griffith) tries to sedcue him in his hotel room and the case that Iris wants him to work on, involves Harper preventing Iris' husband (Murray Hamilton) from finding out she has been cheating on him. The plot grows increasingly complex and Harper has a hard time--ahem--keeping his head above water.
Warner Archives has done a fine job restorting this classic film. It's a pity that Newman didn't play Harper more often as he does a terrific job playing the world weary Harper (the character's name was changed to Harper because the producer of the previous film discovered that, while he purchased the rights to the novel, he didn't purchase the rights to the character. Newman suggested that the character's name start with an H as his films with an H in them had done well and writer of the 1966 film William Goldman complied). The audio sounds quite good with a strong mono presence. The film looks strong with a very nice restoration.
Sadly, this film doesn't have any commentary tracks (Goldman did the commentary track on the previous film which was carried over from the DVD) but it does include the original trailer as well as the brief promotional featurette produced for TV back in 1975. It doesn't provide much insight into the production of the film but it's nice to see it included.
"The Drowning Pool" makes me wish that we had gotten the other Harper film that was cancelled in the late 60's. The screenplay was completed for it and a director chosen but it never made it to preproduction for a variety of reasons. Enjoy "The Drowning Pool" but make sure to bring a life preserver.