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DVD Review: The Big Boodle

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There’s no getting around it — Errol Flynn looks mighty tired in The Big Boodle, one of the final films he starred in before his death in 1959. There’s a bit of a haggard quality to his casino dealer character in the film, but it goes deeper than that, with Flynn barely able to muster any enthusiasm for most of the scenes here.

It’s not hard to blame him — The Big Boodle is constitutionally mundane, only given a minor shot in the arm by its pre-Castro Cuba location photography. Flynn stars as Ned Sherwood, a croupier in a Havana casino. Dealing one night, he receives 500 pesos from a nervous-looking blonde (Rossana Rory), and immediately recognizes them as counterfeit. He tries to confront her, but she slips from his grasp.

After work, Sherwood is accosted by a pair of thugs and beat mercilessly. When the cops take on the case though, he suddenly becomes a criminal rather than a victim when they find the fake money on him.

Protestations of innocence and an anonymously paid bail later, Sherwood’s back on the streets where he’s confronted by some high-level counterfeiters, who think he has the printing plates, which have mysteriously gone missing.

This back-and-forth between cops and counterfeiters grows tired quickly, with Sherwood trying to sort out both sides while dabbling with the blonde and her equally attractive brunette sister (Gia Scala).

The film sustains little momentum or energy from scene to scene, perfunctorily going through the motions as Flynn navigates the Cuban underworld and gets beat up more than a few times. This is a film that’s strictly for Flynn completists.

The MGM burn-on-demand Limited Edition Collection release presents the full frame black-and-white image adequately, with persistent but not obnoxious markings and scratches and fairly stable grayscale levels. The audio on the other hand is atrocious, with almost all dialogue surrounded by a persistent echo that frequently muffles and obscures what’s being said. Whether this was an issue with production or merely a result of the transfer here, it’s just another reason not to bother.

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About Dusty Somers

Dusty Somers is a Seattle-based editor and writer. He is a member of the Online Film Critics Society and Seattle Theater Writers.