The Prize [VHS]
- Amazon Sales Rank: #64089 in VHS
- Released on: 1998-05-26
- Rating: NR (Not Rated)
- Number of discs: 1
- Formats: Color, NTSC
- Original language: English, French, German, Swedish
- Running time: 45 minutes
The Prize A Viewer's Reward
The Prize is a fast, humorous, suspense story set against the backdrop of the Nobel Prize and the Cold War. A great cast headed by Paul Newman, Elke Summer, Diane Baker, Kevin McCarthy, Leo G. Carroll and Edward G. Robinson in one of his later performances.
Paul Newman plays a once promising author, now writing mysteries under a assumed name, who receives the Nobel Prize for Literature. His curiousity leads him into many embarrassing and dangerous situations. No superhero, he uses his wits to survive.
Rarely seen on TV or mentioned in reviews of Newman's career, it is unexpected pleasure to watch. Set against the glories of Stockholm and in color, it is a feast for the armchair traveller. Get the popcorn ready and sit back and enjoy.
Top Drawer !
After visiting Stockholm a few times I was very keen to see this film. The location is among the most beautiful in the world.
This film is almost 40 years old, however it still looks incredible.
Mark Robinson's direction is very Hitchcock, and in my opinion works better than Newmans and Hitchcocks very own "Torn Curtain" effort.
One of Newmans top ten if you ask me, it's just a shame that it doesn't recieve as much recognition as it deserves. Great fun.
If only the Nobel Prize ceremonies were always this intriguing
For a Hitchcock knock-off, The Prize is not bad at all. There's an amusing situation (not Lincoln's nostril but the Nobel Prize ceremonies), scenic tours (not of the Riviera but of Stockholm), a gaunt killer (not an imported assassin who knows music but a waiter), a long, terrifying fall (not Madeleine Elster but Paul Newman), a supple blond ice queen (not Grace Kelly or Eva Marie Saint but Elke Sommer) and a dashing hero (not Cary Grant but Newman). And in an odd sort of way, it's Paul Newman who is as much a drawback to the movie as a plus. Please note that elements of the plot are discussed, but the set-up is all established in the first ten minutes of the movie.
Newman plays Andrew Craig, an American author who has run out of steam after two great books. He's been awarded the Nobel Prize for literature and has arrived in Stockholm, full of martinis and self-loathing, for the award ceremonies. Craig is on his way to becoming a lush. The Nobel committee has assigned him a keeper, Inger Anderson (Elke Sommer), to keep him out of trouble, away from the booze and to see that he minds his manners. She's not altogether successful. At the hotel, Craig meets Dr. Max Stratman (Edward G. Robinson), an émigré after WWII from Germany who is now an American citizen. Stratman is receiving the Nobel for physics. They chat and agree to meet for further discussion the next day. Craig also meets Stratman's niece, Emily Stratman (Diane Baker). Yet at the next morning's press briefing, where all the Nobel winners have gathered to meet reporters, Stratman acts as if he's never met Craig before. Only we know why; Max Stratman has been propositioned to defect to East Germany...and when he refused, he was abducted and replaced by his twin brother, Walter Stratman, from behind the Iron Curtain. It's not long before Craig catches on that something nasty is happening. Partly out of concern for Max Stratman, partly out of boredom, he sets out to answer the questions that keep popping up in his head. Along the way he finds a body, is pushed off a tall building into an ocean channel and nearly killed by a tugboat, is threatened and then almost run over by a car, finds himself in an eery psychiatric hospital and then, pursued by two killers, in a meeting hall filled with nudists. What can he do but take off his clothes to blend in? At the climax, he finds himself clamoring around the cargo holds of an East German freighter where only he seems to believe the villains have hidden Stratman. And all along he is either helped or hindered, take your pick, by Inger Anderson and Emily Stratman. It's easy to tell who the bad guys are, but not so easy to figure out which of the two women is playing a double game.
While all this is going on, preparation for the Nobel ceremonies is taking place...the receptions, the rehearsals, the getting-to-know the other winners, some of whom turn out to play key roles, especially the two who have won the Nobel for medicine. They dislike each other intensely yet find a grudging friendship when they must work together to save a key character. Best of all is Leo G. Carroll as Count Bertil Jacobson, charged with making sure everything at the ceremony moves smoothly. Carroll, a veteran of Hitchcock films, is droll and understated.
Why is Newman essential to the movie? Because he has star power, and we recognize it as soon as he appears on the screen. Hitchcock was at his best with strong, charismatic actors. Newman provides the same strength here. Why is he also a weakness? Because he's no Cary Grant. The Prize is the same kind of international adventure, romantic and stylish, as are To Catch a Thief and North by Northwest. Where Grant could effortlessly turn irony into amused charm, however, Newman turns irony more often into a kind of petulant sarcasm, especially when he's acting half in the bag. And where Grant and Kelly melted the celluloid, Newman and Sommer don't make many sparks. They're playful, find themselves in compromising positions, smile out a few hopeful double entendres, but it's all just pleasant acting. On the other hand, Edward G. Robinson brings a great deal of authority to his role. There's not much of him in the second half of the movie. In the first half, however, we get to see him as an avuncular, kindly and smart old man, someone we can believe would make a man like Craig become concerned about, and then as a cold-eyed, deliberate and not-so-kind character.
All-in-all, The Prize is a snappy, reasonably fast-paced cold-war adventure, a lot of fun to watch. I enjoy it whenever I see it. I just wish Hitchcock and Grant had made it.