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The Next Man


‘…it’s not just the incessant shots of the Twin Towers and Concorde that date Richard C Sarafian’s film; the political angle seems naïve even for the 70’s…’

Yikes! Amazon Prime have developed a knack of finding the dustiest, least wanted films on earth and bringing them directly to our homes with the self-confident air of a returning cat dropping a mangled mess of mouse at our feet. 1976 political thriller romance The Next Man is the latest scraped-off barnacle they’re offering up, in a lousy print that seems so scuffed and beaten-up it’s almost impossible to watch. They may have the deepest pockets of all streamers, but they don’t seem to care for the quality, content or appearance of what they screen…

Producer Martin Bergman had a string of successes in the 70’s and 80’s, including Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon and Scarface. So it’s hardly surprising that he’d want to elevate his girlfriend, soon to be wife, Cornelia Sharpe by creating a vehicle for her to star opposite Morningside milkman Sean Connery. Sharpe plays assassin Nicole Scott, who we see seducing then murdering Bond villain Adolfo Celi in the opening scenes. ‘I didn’t know you were so hungry,’ he says as she wolfs down her dinner ‘I’m famished,’ she replies. With that scene making zero obvious point, Scott slips a plastic bag over Celi’s head, but she obviously didn’t fancy Celi the way she fancies her next conquest, since her next man takes forever to kill. He’s the Saudi Arabian minister of state, Khalil Abdul-Muhsen, played by, yes, Sean Connery, who makes waves at the UN politically by forging links between his homeland and Israel in an outspoken outburst a la Howard Beale in Network.

Yikes indeed; it’s not just the incessant shots of the Twin Towers and Concorde that date Richard C Sarafian’s film; the political angle seems naïve even for the 70’s. Connery’s character has zero media awareness ‘What is The Today Show?’ he asks an aide, then makes a speech at which he claims that OPEC was created to take on the oil cartel, and that the Saudi’s, rather than accept political and economic blackmail, just want to buck that system with the kind of upbeat, inclusive policies that recently did so much for Jamal Khashoggi and the PGA. ‘Indians, Arabians, all men are brothers!’ proclaims Khalil with a movie-star smile, but not everyone is pleased; death-threats come from ’Iraq and Moscow’, the Syrian UN delegation walk out in fury, and a fresh relationship with Nicole Scott promises a potential death blow to Khalil Abdul-Muhsen’s ideals.

So what’s left is Connery playing backgammon with the producer’s wife, who finds him to be a ‘tiger with soft brown eyes.’ Other notable inclusions feature a chat with the builder from Fawlty Towers, a stop-off to view an Arabian Fried Chicken, a man tap-dancing in Union Jack trousers, an advert for the Mormon Tabernacle choir and a trip to Irish Ireland where interiors feature green flowers, wall-paper and curtains in case we wonder what country we’re in. ‘The dream survives,’ our hero proclaims, but the odds are against him from the start; it’s hard to work out who might have found this story plausible in 1976, but it doesn’t seem any more plausible now. And any questions about the position of Saudi Arabia’s women in their own country are dismissed with this eye-brow raising dialogue for Connery. ‘We do not have pantyhose in our country, but that is our women’s greatest advantage…they will lead us to wherever they want to take us. Give them time!’ How all that turned out is up for debate, but The Next Man’s tone-deaf contribution to international politics is firmly in the debit column. Even the Saudi made an official protest about how they’re depicted in this film, which is interesting given that they’re portrayed as peaceful idealists who tirelessly advocate for women’s rights.


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  1. Come come now, didn’t you see the deeper meanings interwoven like a tapestry in this film of hope and comradery? Even Alex was able to find deeper meaning in that pos he just reviewed. If you ask me, I think you just aren’t looking hard enough.
    So put those blinders on and start praising. I mean, movies bring us all together. Where else could a scottish person pretend to be a saudi arabian and we all just accept it? Now there’s brotherhood and acceptance right there….

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