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Alan J. Pakula
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Probably the most accurate one word description for "La Partia" ("The Gamble") is "witless".
It was certainly "witless" to cast Mathew Modine in a 18th century Italian period piece. Modine and his monotone voice are unsuited to anything but playing a contemporary American. Modine was the guy in high school who got the lead in "Camelot", he sang the songs and he said the lines well enough, but not for a second did anyone suspend belief that it was anything more than a high school play. In "The Gamble" he plays an Italian Tom Jones who looks and talks more like a guy at the mall in Parma, Ohio than in 18th century Italy (even Parma).
It was certainly "witless" to try to turn this script into a feature-length movie. While not unintentionally funny enough for MST3000 to parody, it does contain the immortal line: "We are the "Pesto Brothers", in the service of the countess, and we have come to collect you". These guys should have been teamed with the "Pasta Sisters".
It was "witless" of Jennifer Beals to accept her role. But I guess you have to eat and she had not done anything since her pretty decent performance in "The Bride" three years earlier. "The Gamble" was not really a career killer for her, at least when compared to Modine her performance is satisfactory.
It was "witless" to cast Faye Dunaway as the countess. Dunaway basically reprises her roles in "The Four Musketeers" and "The Wicked Lady"; apparently she has a thing for this period of history. In all three films her character comes across bored and tired. "The Gamble" needs a lot of things to be watchable, but an over-the-top performance from Dunaway would at least have given this thing the periodic energy transfusions it needs to stay alive.
You are unlikely to accidentally stumble across this movie. If you are seeking it out to assemble a collected works of Jennifer Beals, just buy the thing and put it away without viewing.
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