Directed by Vic Morrow
Written by Jean Genet (translated by Bernard Frechtman)
Released March 1966
Review by Bob Waltrip
March 14, 1966.
As a play, DEATHWATCH was one of Auntie Genet’s sicker and duller masturbations. Some serious young men here in Hollywood worked seven years to bring it to the screen. They wasted a hell of a lot of time. But for once Hollywood was true to the author.
The screen version, acted in English, tells us nothing we don’t already know about prison life. The story centers around Green Eyes (Michael Forest), a magnificently beautiful hunk of man who has murdered either his wife or his girl friend (I could never be quite sure) and is waiting in prison to be put to death. Mr. Forest is one of the sexiest men I have ever seen. When he is flirting with Maurice (perfectly acted by Paul Mazurky), the homosexual punk who furnishes him sexual relief and ego nurturment, he is in his element. Regrettably, however, when be is faced with a dramatic scene, he becomes a puppet, mouthing Genet’s filth and making everyone damned uncomfortable.
Leonard Nimoy, who plays Jules, the petty thief who is also in the cell, is quite adequate as the little guy who is trying to be a big guy around the prison.
If you enjoy beefcake and steamy homosexual scenes you will more than likely find Deathwatch to your taste. But I would advise you to see a matinee screening, so that you will have time after the show to take in a couple of Walt Disneys in order to get Genet’s taste out of your mouth.
Published in Tangents 1.6, March 1966
©1966, 2016 by The Tangent Group. All rights reserved.