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Pals (1987)

The television movie made for some interesting combinations of aging actors in the seventies and eighties and here’s something you won’t see everyday.

George C. Scott and Don Ameche as “pals” living out their retirement years at a trailer park set up.

scott and ameche

Both men are rather bored with their current lot in life and like many others I suppose, yearn for excitement. When another close friend decides to sell his charter boat fishing operation the boys see this as a viable opportunity to  work at something they love doing. Fishing.

Also starring here as Scott’s aging Mother is another name from the early days of Hollywood. Miss Sylvia Sidney. She’s kind of flighty here and when the boys are out for a drive with Mom, they come across an abandoned car with a suitcase full of cash. 3.6 million to be exact. There dreams of grandeur and living the high life are about to come true. Trouble is sure to follow when a hitman is wanting the mob’s money back from a drug exchange gone wrong.

This leads to what might be the most amusing scene in the flick. Scott and Ameche in disguise. Big black hair and bushy mustaches to go with the wigs behind the wheel of a convertible.

Along with a young woman played by Susan Rinell the trio of stars set up new identities and begin to live the high life. Scott is enjoying his new look and rich acquaintances while Ameche very quickly begins to appreciate what they had in life and longs for the past.

Between the hitman hunting them down and the young Rinell attempting to teach the much older Scott a valuable lesson in life the film will meander along to it’s inevitable conclusion that shouldn’t hold any surprises or pack any George C. Scott explosions of Patton(esque) memorable moments.

pals poster

Like most TV movies of the day things are rather tame here and the laughs are forced. George C. plays it up a bit on the goofy side but there is just something missing when we get George light. The man can chew up most actors with one nasty look and scare a shark out of the water if he growls his voice higher than a whisper.

Don was at this time riding the crest of fame all over again thanks to an Oscar for Cocoon and Trading Places as Mortimer Duke. “Here, one dollar.” I recall another film he did at this late point in his career worth a look titled Things Change.

sylvia sidney

In case you happen to be doing some math, Sylvia playing George’s mom isn’t a stretch. She was seventeen years older than George. Don was actually nineteen years older than Scott and his career as well as Sylvia’s goes back to the early thirties while George made his debut on camera in 1959.

Though Scott would appear in a handful of theatrical films post 1980 like Firestarter and The Exorcist III, the majority of his work seemed confined to the small screen up to his death in 1999. By no means a memorable flick here but where George C. Scott is concerned, I’ve always made an effort to have a look. Good, bad or indifferent.

6 Comments »

  1. And if you have TCM, tonight you can see Scott in the 1972 TV movie RAGE, which he also directed. I haven’t seen that one in ages, so I may as well check it out myself…

      • Duh. I just realized once I started watching on TCM and it was in widescreen that it was actually in theaters. Then again, I’ve only seen it on TV when ABC ran it all those times back in the 70’s. Anyway, it still works well for what it is and yep, Martin Sheen plays that disreputable young doctor just fine.

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