The Fan (1981) ***
D: Edward Bianchi
C: Lauren Becall, James Garner, Michael Biehn, Maureen Stapleton, Hector Elizondo, Anna Marie Horsford, Kurt Johnson, Dana Delany, Griffin Dunne, Liz Smith
Plot Synopsis: A record salesman is an obsessed fan of an actress of stage and screen (Lauren Bacall). However when his letters are rejected, the fan strikes out at the actresses friends, then at her.
Review: In 94 exciting minutes, The Fan entertains by having lead lady, Lauren Becall, sing & dance. She lives in a glamorous NY penthouse while decked out in designer duds. Becall is surrounded by adoring fans, but, in case you don't know the legend that is Lauren Becall, they've scattered numerous closeups of her various head shots from her 35+ years in the industry.
When Becall isn't rekindling a romance with an ex-husband, played by the equally legendary James Garner, she's lusted after by a twenty something fan (Michael Biehn) who turns homicidal after being rejected by her. This forms the cusp of The Fan, a slasher about an adoring fan who takes to murder to get the attention of a famous actress.
When the camera isn't making love to Becall, the focus is on Michael Biehn. He manages to turn in a credible performance that captures vulnerability & psychotic edge. His character engages in violent acts such as slitting throats or burning gay men while delivering memorable bits of dialogue, most notably a line about using a meat cleaver in a sexual sort of way. This is a film that goes for theatrics and delivers in doing so.
The finale is a prime example. After turning in a show stopping turn in her latest project, a play within the film, Becall turns into an ass kicking heroine, while outfitted in a sequined gown with all of this set to a score by the legendary Pino Donaggio. It's great fun in a kitschy sort of way, but great fun none the less. A lot of people will find this gratuitous, especially fans of Lauren Becall, but this is a film made with gratuitous aspirations. Don't let the A+ credentials of those involved with this production fool you.
At the time of filming, Bacall's career was at a stand still. Slashers were the next big trend. Why not have Lauren Becall star in a slasher movie? Seems like a surefire way to guarantee a comeback and make some money while doing so. However, The Fan flopped at the box office, because the cast tried to act like they were above the material during publicity rounds.
In a way, the cast is right. With a lesser actors and lesser production values, this would've been completely written off. They've token B movie material and dressed it up. Still, they should've owned up to their gratuitous aspirations. Not every film is designed to be something of great importance. Sometimes people just want to be entertained, something that The Fan executes with gusto. It has cheap thrills. It's a vanity project for Lauren Becall. If you like cheap thrills and Lauren Becall, then you're in luck. This movie has both, in spades.
This doesn't makes for a good film, in the traditional sense, but it makes for one hell of a guilty pleasure! [R] 94 minutes.
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