(1998, US, 119 min) Dir John Falco. Cast Peter Fonda, Edward Furlong, Steve Buscemi, Elliott Gould.
For about five minutes there at the tail end of the nineties John Falco was the Happy, Texas of film directors – much feted but little seen. Much like Happy, Texas he failed to live up to the hype but how could he have when The Duke of St Elizabeth’s was to be his introduction to the film world? It’s not a bad film, not by any stretch, but it’s a gentle, ambling comedy drama completely devoid of conflict and edge – it’s no Reservoir Dogs or Pi to be sure. Along with the previous year’s Ulee’s Gold (which was also much praised and little seen) this was supposed to seal the deal for Peter Fonda’s return to mainstream filmmaking but for a comeback the man seems curiously disengaged as burnt out rock legend Bob Stranger who has been in residence in St Elizabeth’s Rehabilitation Centre since 1983. It’s possible this alienation is intentional but I can’t say it works, especially as he’s supposed to be bonding with young speed freak Eddie (Furlong). The rest of the cast contribute well enough with Buscemi’s recovering coke addict and Gould’s tired psychiatrist coming out the best of a good bunch. Poor Falco though – he wasn’t even big enough in those fifteen minutes to warrant inclusion in the occasional ‘Where Are They Now?’ articles but seems to be doing well enough these days in the world of television.