Much as the filmmakers would like to get there, Havana remains a long way from Casablanca. In their seventh outing over a 25-year period, director Sydney Pollack and star Robert Redford have lost their normally dependable quality touch as they slog through a notably uncompelling $45 million-plus tale of a gringo caught up in the Cuban revolution.

Much as the filmmakers would like to get there, Havana remains a long way from Casablanca. In their seventh outing over a 25-year period, director Sydney Pollack and star Robert Redford have lost their normally dependable quality touch as they slog through a notably uncompelling $45 million-plus tale of a gringo caught up in the Cuban revolution.

In a shipboard prolog, Redford’s rogue gambler character, Jack Weil, strikes a few sparks with Lena Olin’s mysterious Bobby Duran and agrees to smuggle into Havana a radio that will help Castro spread his word in the capital in the waning days of 1958.

Although the city is astir with rumors concerning the rebel leader’s activities in the mountains, it’s still business as usual under the Batista dictatorship.

Redford’s eye for Olin leads him into dangerous political territory involving her wealthy left-wing husband Arturo (played suavely by an uncredited Raul Julia), a CIA spook posing as a food critic, and various military toughs.

Unfortunately, the tentative romance between the two is never really credible. As usual, Redford is cool, reserved and a bit bemused, while the striking Olin is mercurial and intense. The combination doesn’t take.

Judith Rascoe’s original script was written in the mid-1970s. As rewritten by David Rayfiel, yarn is a mishmash of old-hat Hollywood conventions, political pussyfooting and loads of bad dialog.

1990: Nomination: Best Original Score

Havana

Production

Mirage/Universal. Dir Sydney Pollack; Producer Sydney Pollack; Screenplay Judith Rascoe, David Rayfiel; Camera Owen Roizman; Editor Fredric Steinkamp, William Steinkamp; Music Dave Grusin Art Dir Terence Marsh

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1990. Running time: 145 MIN.

With

Robert Redford Lena Olin Alan Arkin Tomas Milian Raul Julia Mark Rydell
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