End of the Game

Movie Information

The Hendersonville Film Society will show End of the Game at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 4, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community, 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville. (From Asheville, take I-26 to U.S. 64 West, turn right at the third light onto Thompson Street. Follow to the Lake Point Landing entrance and park in the lot on the left.)
Genre: Mystery Thriller
Director: Maximilian Schell
Starring: Jon Voight, Jacqueline Bisset, Martin Ritt, Robert Shaw
Rated: PG

Here we have a film directed by a man better known as an actor—Maximilian Schell—and a star—Martin Ritt—better known as a director. If that’s not enough oddness, throw in Donald Sutherland in a cameo appearance as a corpse and playwright and the film’s co-screenwriter (and author of its source novel) Friedrich Dürrenmatt in his only film role. Somehow all this peculiar hat switching seems to fit this little-known 1975 film that’s most often described (when it’s discussed at all) as an “existential mystery.” That’s as good a classification as any for this misty, stylish mystery thriller set in Switzerland about a terminally ill detective (Ritt) who has spent 30 years trying to get the dirt on a man (Robert Shaw) he saw commit a murder, but could never prove. A new murder may just give him the opportunity to settle that score.

Schell crafts the film in a very mid-‘70s manner that generally serves him well. There’s a splendidly strange—and amusing—funeral in the middle of a rainstorm that makes for a very fine set piece, and numerous other clever bits that keep the movie cinematically intriguing. Ritt is surprisingly assured (in a kind of Lou Jacobi mode) as the old inspector, though his occasional stabs at a Swiss accent are just that—occasional—and seem a little at odds with the accent affected by Jon Voight. (Robert Shaw’s accent is equally dodgy, so perhaps it balances out.) It’s by no means a great film, but it’s a very good one that ought to be better known than it is.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

One thought on “End of the Game

  1. Frederick Wright

    I agree. A very good film in the style of Orson Welles.

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