99 and 44/100% Dead
Cast: Richard Harris, Chuck Connors, Edmond O'Brien
99 and 44/100% Dead is one weird movie.
It's also a good
indicator as to how excessive movies in the 70s got. I can't imagine
like this being made by a major studio in the 90s. It's not a very good
movie, but I can see that some people will find it watchable for its
attitude and just plain strangeness. I must admit that though I found
movie a bit too sloppy and a bit too plotless, it certainly kept me
if only for the fact that I was curious as to what new kind of
would come up next.
The weirdness starts with looking at the video box
graphics. On the
front cover, you see a still of a shadowy character holding a gun
forward towards the readers of the box, with the sea behind him.
there's no such shot in the movie, but that's not what's crazy about
It's the fact that at first glance, the character looks like Woody
Of course, my surprise went away a few seconds later when I realized
the gun-toting character was actually actor Richard Harris. Actually,
only slightly less silly. It's interesting to note that with his
and glasses, Harris in the movie greatly resembles Michael Caine.
After a pop-art title sequence, the movie opens with the
one of a city's mafia gangs dumping a body in the bay, leading to a
sequence underwater showing the bottom of the bay packed with the
and skeletons of both gangs' victims. A shootout breaks out shortly
and we learn that both gangs are involved in a bloody gang war in order
to determine supremacy. Godfather "Mr. Kelly" calls the freelance Harry
Crown (Harris) to help him win the war, while rival leader "Big Eddie"
at the same time calls in another hitman, Marvin 'The Claw'
(Connors), who uses various kinds of artificial appendages (claws,
whips) to make up for the hand that Harry chopped of in the past. So
only is there bad blood between Kelly and Eddie, but also Harry and
This leads to shootouts between the gangs and Kelly and Eddie, in
sections of the city. Actually, you don't see many people other than
main during the course of the movie, which adds to the surreal feel.
There's really not much more to the movie in the plot
than those shootouts. There is a love interest provided by Crown's
girlfriend, but she seems to be only in the movie for the expected
when she gets abducted and tied to a bomb. It does lead to a tense
when Crown attempts to disarm the bomb, but then leads to the clichéd
of a stone-faced hero walking towards the camera when behind him
a large explosion. At least we didn't get a scene of the hero deciding,
"Is it the red wire or the blue wire?" Nor is there much conflict
Crown and Marvin, because the character of Marvin only appears for
2 or three short scenes. (Connors does make the most out of this short
appearance by giving an entertaining eye-rolling performance.) For the
most part, we are waiting through shootouts and some confusing dialogue
to the inevitable showdown, not really caring about the characters or
relationships with each other.
The movie does partially make up for some of these
defects by, as I
said before, being extremely weird. All the gangsters are dressed up in
suits and hats, even when going out on kill missions. Harry and his
meet in a pop-art fashioned big fabric room filled with hot air. There
are alligators in the sewers. Many scenes are played like cartoons,
little to no dialogue and comic book-like violence. In one scene, Harry
stands naked in front of a mirror (waist up), and there's a
positioned green bottle on the dresser in front of him. All of this is
played completely straight, which just adds to the strangeness of it
I indicated before that 99 and 44/100% Dead
will be appealing
to some people, but it will also infuriate others. The people who will
be infuriated will more likely be the people who are expecting more
storytelling and a stronger plot. Also, this isn't the kind of movie
best watched all at once - if it is, it will seem like a comedian
the same joke over and over. Commercial breaks or stopping for a break
every 15 to 20 minutes while watching it on your VCR is probably the
way to watch it for those who decide to take a chance. Who knows, you
find it a gem, and watch it all the way through.
for availability on Amazon (VHS)
for availability on Amazon (DVD)
Check Amazon for Richard Harris biography
Also: Didn't You Hear, Pushing Up Daisies, Completely