What sane person in the year 2019 would want to watch The Prize, a piece of slick, cheesy, pseudo-swanky escapism with a James Bond-ian flourish?
Paul Newman starred as an alcoholic Nobel Prize winner in Stockholm, sipping a string of martinis as he puts the moves on Elke Sommer, and as they both get caught up in a Foreign Correspondent-type kidnapping caper. Empty, synthetic crap from start to finish.
And what about director Mark Robson? Talk about a tragic fall from grace.
A fledgling director-editor who was mentored in the 1940s by Val Lewton and Robert Wise, Robson hit his stride in 1949 when he directed the rough and gritty Champion and Home of the Brave, for producer Stanley Kramer.
Robson probably peaked with his direction of The Bridges of Toko-Ri (’54), a highly respected Korean War film with William Holden, as well as The Harder They Fall, a Budd Schulberg prize-fighter drama with Humphrey Bogart.
Robson then fell into a kind of soap-opera groove with Peyton Place (’57), The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (’58) and From The Terrace (’60). Then came the mildly approvable, moderately mediocre Lisa and Nine Hours To Rama (’63).
Later that year Robson fell off a cliff with The Prize. Then came the no-great-shakes Von Ryan’s Express (’65), a WWII actioner with Frank Sinatra.
In ’67 Robson was back in the soap opera ditch with Valley of the Dolls…good God. After that he made nothing but shit, shit, shit — Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting (’69), Happy Birthday, Wanda June (’71), Limbo (’72), Earthquake (’74). The poor guy died of a heart attack in ’78 at age 64.
Hoe do you go from Champion and The Bridges at Toko-Ri to Valley of the the Dolls and Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting…that’s what I want to know.