In my mind there is something cheap and shallow about the ‘70s. In keeping with that thought, I recommend watching Frank Sinatra in the two Tony Rome movies to gain an understanding of the era. That’s not entirely dreary homework. But you have to be in a certain mood to enjoy the light, breezy dialogue about murder. Corpses are secondary here.
Oddly, there was a third movie some consider part of a triptych. Also starring Frank Sinatra, The Detective — a police detective hero rather than private eye — was far grittier and tried to take on larger, more serious issues. Fairly daring in its time, it was nonetheless pretty much of a mess of a movie. An early flashback went on for so long I was pretty sure they had all forgotten about the grisly murder in the first scene. And the actors were so intensely “serious,” I think they were compensating for not trying nearly hard enough in the earlier pair of Tony Romes.
While the two Tony Romes (Tony Rome and Lady in Cement) are not better movies, they achieved what they set out to do. They didn’t intend to change the world, merely make you laugh at it. They were content to create an environment more in keeping with Oceans Eleven than say, The Wire. Tony Rome was a character developed by Marvin Albert in his novel, Miami Mayhem. And indeed we will spend our movie-watching hours cruising around on boats, romping on beaches, driving convertibles and visiting gaudy high-end hotels as well as gaudy low-end hotels, not a worry in our pretty little heads.
In any event, skip The Detective and go for the light stuff —the two Romes. In the libations department go for the hard stuff — liquor on the rocks for this double feature. You need to take the edge off quickly.