Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

The Good German

The Good German - posterCinema Monolith: 5/10 This film is part of the Cinema Monolith collection!
IMDb: 6.1/10
Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide: **½ out of 4

Released on January 19, 2007
Rated R
105 minutes

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Written by Paul Attanasio, based on the novel by Joseph Kanon

Cast: George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Tobey Maguire, Beau Bridges, Tony Curran, Leland Orser, Jack Thompson, Robin Weigert, Ravil Isyanov, Christian Oliver, Don Pugsley, Dave Power

A few weeks back, I was in the mood to watch a film from my Monolith collection that I’d never seen before, and since I’d had this one sitting on the shelf for quite some time now (after having bought it on a whim—and cheap—at a local used record store), I decided it was time to give it a shot. And since it was a period piece set during the aftermath of World War II, was filmed in black-and-white, and starred one of my favorite actors working today, George Clooney, I figured it had to be a safe bet.

Well, it most certainly wasn’t. Somehow, director Steven Soderbergh found a way to take a fairly decent idea—a noir-like war drama made to resemble a film from the 1940s—and turn it into something that was dull, moved at a snail’s pace, and at times was a bit tiresome. The story, such as it is, features Clooney as a war correspondent in post-war Berlin on the eve of a peace conference, with Tobey McGuire the driver with questionable motives assigned to him, and Cate Blanchett the woman caught between the two. A murder in the Russian sector then complicates things.

After seeing two of Soderbergh’s more recent directorial efforts, Haywire and Side Effects, and enjoying them both, I was surprised that he’d taken such a step down with this one. But maybe it wasn’t entirely his fault; if I must choose just one culprit to shake my fist at, I’d go with screenwriter Paul Annatasio and his plodding, character-deficient story. I also wonder if he strayed far from the source novel’s plot, or if the book was equally as irksome—and filled with as many obscenities and sex scenes—as the film was.

Clooney, Blanchett, and their supporting cast were all fine, and at times their scenes showed some solid noir potential. But McGuire was flat-out annoying, and didn’t have the stature—or class—to compete on equal ground with his co-stars. And though Soderbergh’s directorial skills were evident enough, his attempts at mimicking the tone and ambience of such ’40s wartime noirs as Berlin Express and 13 Rue Madeleine were sadly deficient.

Also, it was surprising to see Clooney play such a patsy here, and he seemed to spend a good portion of his screen time getting the tar kicked out of him. Still, he was a strong enough presence to make The Good German somewhat worthy of a look, if only to see how he would’ve fared in an actual noir film, in a role that otherwise might’ve been offered to Clark Gable or Cary Grant. In the end, however, I felt kinda peeved that I’d wasted three dollars on the thing.  (5/10)

The Good German


12 comments on “The Good German

  1. Lindsey

    This is totally something I would buy at my own local record shop if I came across it (they usually have a pretty fantastic DVD selection), so I’m glad you’ve warned me against it, haha. Clooney usually is a safe bet but he’s had a few clunkers, most recently that trainwreck Hail, Caesar!

    • Todd B

      And speaking of which: you may just find that trainwreck on my ‘Most Disappointing of 2016’ list, posting at the end of the month.

  2. I’ve wasted many a dollar on worse fare than this one. I guess it’s forgettable because I recall very little about it. Even the poster stirs up the Casablanca poster.

    • Todd B

      Yeah, I’ve read a few things about that poster purposely aping the one for Casablanca. And I once spent $1.69 on a William Shatner movie called Impulse, which proved to be a lot more entertaining – and cost-effective – than The Good German.

      • That Shatner flick is great camp. Lol.

      • Todd B

        Loved the balloon moment…Shatner at his angriest.

  3. Dracula

    This is why I prefer Foreign Film Festival movies with no big time actors. All these stars and a waste of $3! Hey I don’t know if the CM fans are going to be able to keep up with comments with the daily post. I always like to go back to the previous one every other day or two to read the comments. Hard to keep up with this on a daily basis. Maybe a rethink on the daily review. How about a couple days a week. Just a suggestion, don’t remove me from the CM Blog!

    • Todd B

      Don’t worry, my comment-flooded friend: it may turn into a 2-day-a-week schedule anyway, if I can’t keep up this current 7-day-a-week pace. We’ll see what happens when February rolls around; if sleep, dietary intake, my baseball blog, my volunteer work doing search-and-rescue missions for the CIA, and movie watching are impacted too much, I may make the switch.

  4. Dracula

    My vote is in for the 2 day a week schedule. A movie and then and off piece like the Stanford Theater. I can keep up and follow at that pace. Plus how are you going to keep up with all the responses to the comments? Maybe hire an assistant. Lil man will help, he is good with crayons.

    • Todd B

      Your vote has been accepted and noted…but I’ll still try for 365 days in the interim. And I can easily keep up with the influx of comments simply because I have no life. Seriously.

  5. This was recently on “the tube” and I guess it was our good fortune that we only caught the tail end of it. Although I’m not sure there is such a thing as a bad George Clooney movie – EXCEPT (as Lindsey points out) the totally absurd Hail, Caesar!

    • Todd B

      How about this: there are bad George Clooney movies, but not George Clooney performances. And Hail, Caesar!…agreed! Ugh!

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Review Totals

Movies Reviewed: 196

From the Monolith: 106

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