Sunday, June 6, 2010

Gone With the Pope

I caught a midnight movie at the Bridge over Memorial Day Weekend. The film was Gone With the Pope. Also known as Kiss The Ring, the film was a labor of love for Duke Mitchell - the producer, director, writer and star. Filmed in 1975 and unfinished at the time of Mitchell's death in 1981, it was released until 2010. Reportedly, Bob Murawski (editor of Spiderman, Spiderman 2, Spiderman 3 and The Hurt Locker) spent 15 years editing the film.

I'm not sure how to describe the film. The plot, such as it is, focuses on Paul, a convict who is newly released from prison. While in the joint, Paul has gone through hell and back with Peter, Luke and an old man whose name I don't recall but was probably one of the apostles. Paul gets a wealthy girlfriend and Great Dane but eventually takes a murder-for-hire job for the Mob. For some reason, he performs the LA murders but he subcontracts the Las Vegas hits. The Mob intends to double cross (again for reasons that are unclear) Paul but he gets away with the money.

In the second half of the film, Peter, Luke & the Old Man get released from prison and take a boat trip from LA to Rome. While in Rome, they hatch a plan to kidnap the Pope and demand $1 from every Catholic for his safe return. Mainly due to surprisingly lax security at the Vatican, they kidnap the Pope and hide out on the open seas. Eventually, the Pope talks Paul & Luke into returning him. Peter goes along with the plan. The old man has disappeared from the story although the actor who portrayed him is now playing the Pope.

Peter returns to LA alone and seems to get his life in order but the Mob comes gunning for him. They kill the Las Vegas hit man and seem to be closing in. I don't want to give away the ending. I think the ending in the film was not the intended ending but I could be wrong.

So let me count everything that was wrong with this film.

1) The acting was horrible. No one was really up to the task. Mitchell looks and sounds like he is doing a James Caan impersonation. Everyone else is thankfully forgettable.

2) The soundtrack was horrible. Mitchell "sings" his own songs. Apparently Bill Shatner wasn't available. I guess it was meant to be spoken word but Mitchell intones with an earnestness that has to be heard to be believed. There is also a tacky lounge act that shows up periodically featuring a talented, tall redhead that can play the trumpet, guitar and a few other instruments.

3) The plot was horrible. There are holes big enough to drive a truck through. I'd have to go into more detail about the plot to point out the holes in it so you'll have to take my word. One example is when Peter picks up a morbidly obese woman who is walking her poodle. He brings her back to their hotel the night before they are to kidnap the Pope. The intent is for her to have sex with Paul. Paul thinks this is so funny that he decides to join in. Eventually, they steal her clothes and she knocks down the door. It looked like something from a Benny Hill sketch except not as sophisticated.

4) The dialogue was horrible. My favorite line was when Peter threatens to Pope to protect Paul & Luke from criminal prosecution. "If anything happens to these two, I'm going to kill 100 priests...for the fucking Jews!" Or maybe it was the blatantly racist banter Peter has with a black prostitute which I have forgotten except the line "It looks like a brillo" - three guesses as to what the subject of that sentence is referring to.

5) The production values were horrible. The powerful Mafioso bosses looked like they bought their clothes from a JC Penney catalog. While in prison, it looks like the doors only extend halfway across the door frame. For some reason, Paul shakes hands with his paisanos through the bars even though he could move two feet over and have an unobstructed embrace. The Pope conducts his audiences in a dingy reception room and on the day depicted, his appointment calendar was booked with fishwives and peasants.

Enough bitching. Be forewarned that Gone With the Pope is not a diamond in the rough but a piece of crap that's been polished as much as possible - search Mythbusters for the reference. Despite its painfully obvious flaws, I'm glad I saw Gone With the Pope. It's so monumentally bad that it needs to be seen like Plan 9 from Outer Space or Showgirls.

Gone With the Pope starring & directed by Paul Mitchell; (1975/2010) - Official Website

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