Following Oscar success with The Miracle Worker (1962), Arthur Penn’s third – and most stylised – movie finds Warren Beatty as a nameless Detroit night club comic on the run from the Mob for reasons which are never made clear.
He flees to Chicago’s skid row to acquire a new identity (“Mickey One”) and hide behind dead-end jobs, living in poverty.
But he can’t stay away from the dingy clubs. He heckles a comedian, trades quips and lands a job as a comic at a bum ‘n’ grind strip club.
His girl Jenny (Alexandra Stewart) and his agent (Teddy Hart) then persuade him to audition at Club Zanadu, a swank downtown nightclub.
The club owner (Hurd Hatfield) – himself a frontman for the Mob – is fascinated by him. During a frantic third-degree interrogation by a voice asking questions from behind the lighting booth’s spotlight, Mickey runs from the darkened stage. Finally, he decides to come back – for there is no escape – and confront the Mob.
But the plot cannot convey the tension and the excitement of producer-director Arthur Penn’s electrifying style. It’s a stunning, dynamic and memorable film.
Boss at Shaley’s