Yvonne P. Joseph | Brooklyn, New York | 06/10/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I learned about "Lady In Cement" during my childhood. At least the song, for I saw it as one of the tracks on Paul Desmond's "Summertime" record album, which my late father owned. When I listened to it, it had the rhythm of a suspenseful crime drama. As I got older and read the information inside the Paul Desmond album, I discovered "Lady In Cement" was a motion picture crime drama, starring Frank Sinatra.I liked "Tony Rome" (1967). But I find "Lady In Cement" (1968) a more suspenseful mystery. Rome (Sinatra) makes a shocking discovery while scuba diving in a Florida bay: the nude body of a beautiful blonde is found with her feet encased in a block of cement. Hence, the "Lady In Cement". Frank Sinatra again comes off well in the role of the tough-talking cool private detective Tony Rome. Dan Blocker, well-known for playing "Hoss" on the "Bonanza" tv series, is quite impressive and believable as the crude, statuesque Gronsky, who takes a liking to Tony Rome, and hires him to investigate the murder of his former girlfriend, Sondra Lomaxx, who is the 'Lady In Cement'. His crude behavior and gruffness, however, does not make him a bad guy. He's actually on Tony Rome's side!Richard Conte again reprises his role as Lieutenant Santini. There is a humorous part later in the film where Rome gets Santini in a bit of trouble with the law! It is during this 'car chase' sequence the familiar "Lady In Cement" theme is played.Raquel Welch turns in a good perfomance as the wealthy heiress Kit, who suffers alcoholic blackouts where she (conveniently) is unable, under Rome's interrogation, to recall specific details concerning her dealings with the "Lady In Cement" before she died. Although it seems there isn't much for Welch to do in the film but look voluptuous and pretty, she manages to bring sensitivity to her character. "Lady In Cement", like "Tony Rome", shows the underground, sleazy side of Miami life, replete with late 1960's strip clubs and 'Go-Go' dancers. There is a lot of mature, smart talk in the dialogue. Particularly between Sinatra, Dan ("Hoss") Blocker, Richard Conte and, of course, the villains. Then, again, isn't smart talk usually a part of a crime drama??There is the musical score by Hugo Montenegro in the film. When I first watched "Lady In Cement", I enjoyed the music so much that I didn't pay close attention to the movie's plot. I soon ended up ordering the movie soundtrack cd. Finally, I think credit should be given to the "Lady In Cement", herself: the bit actress playing Sondra Lomaxx, Christine Todd. The film's highlight, where Rome discovers Todd in her cement anchor beneath the sea, is worth repeated viewings. It is surreal and hauntingly beautiful with the background score "The Shark" being played. First, Rome vaguely makes out in the distance what appears to be a blonde topless 'statue', with arms splayed overhead, gently rocking in place in a patch of seaweed (which strategically covers Todd's nude lower half). Upon closer inspection, Rome discovers that it is not a statue, but an actual woman who is naked before him. And dead. There is a close-up of Rome's shocked expression seen behind his mask and scuba regulator. To make sure his eyes are not deceiving him, Rome next proceeds to swim around the upright corpse, eyeing the nude form up and down. One can imagine what's going through Rome's mind: That he's encountered corpses before. But nothing like this! A shocking, yet hauntingly beautiful scene. This surreal underwater scene abruptly ends when two sharks turn up unannounced, and go in pursuit of Rome. (Note: If you look at that scene closely, one can see Christine Todd's eyes, which were formerly lowered, are now clearly opened! Worse with the sharks swimming about her and Sinatra/Sinatra's stunt double.) Christine Todd's brief stint as the "Lady In Cement" is unforgettable and convincing. My only question is how did she manage not to release air bubbles, or choke on water as her mouth was slightly opened underwater as she played dead?? I've viewed the 'Undersea Discovery' sequence many times, trying to ponder how was that effect achieved. It isn't a special effect, for everything was clearly done underwater. And I'm quite sure scuba divers were nearby off-camera supplying air to Todd when she needed it. Despite I can swim, I am unable to hold my mouth open underwater prolonged, without me sputtering! Anyway, "Lady In Cement" is my favorite film, next to "The Amphibian Man" (1962). It is unique and well-done."
Not SoTough Guy
Mycroft | Charleston, Oregon | 05/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the best and most delightful of the Tony Rome films. Frank Sinatra is on top of his game as the not so tough P.I in seedy pre-drug Florida. Raquel Welch is nice to look at and Dan Blocker is marvelous as the unstopable Gronsky. For a thirty year old film this one stays fresh and bright. Crisp dialogue and ham without the rye makes for a fun evening."
"I Once Knew A Dame Collected Bullfighters!"
Tony Rome | Florida | 04/14/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Even considering the amazing aspects of the six decade long Sinatra career, the 60's was easily Sinatra's most interesting and diverse.
He started the decade by being the hero of the cocktail generation and wound up the era marrying and divorcing a flower child, thirty years his junior and appearing on TV wearing love beads and a Nehru suit.
"Lady In Cement", shot in Miami in early 1968, found Sinatra reprising his 1967 Tony Rome character; Sinatra shot the film in 30 days (while simultaneously appearing at the Fountainbleu at night).
"Lady" sunk faster at the box office than the dead blonde and helped put the nails in the coffin of Sinatra's film career--this was the era of "The Graduate" and "Easy Rider" and tough talking on screen private eyes were at best, an anachronism.
That said, "Lady In Cement" is a hoot to watch.
Sinatra, in his usual uncanny fashion, is simply terrific and the film is peppered by a knockout performance by Dan Blocker and the bikini clad apperance of Raquel Welch (she can't act her way out of a paper bag, but once she climbs out of a swimming pool, in her opening scene, one is promopted to ask "who cares?"
What makes "Lady" most appealing is that Sinatra allows his film (and HIS film it is without question) to be sprinkled with all manner of political incorrectness (even by 1968 standards)-- leering glimpses of semi nude ladies, rampant homophobia and a liberal amount of hip in jokes ("I knew a dame collected bullfighters"); not to mention hilarious cameo appearnces by Sinatra intimates Jilly Rizzo, Joe E. Lewis and B.S. Pully.
No review of "Lady In Cement" would be complete without a nod to the performance of the great Dan Blocker as Waldo Gronsky, who, in his 3 major scenes, practically walks off (or in Blocker's case, lumbers off) with the film--"Don't tail me pal...I like guys who don't tail me."
Kitty Kelly, in her infamous 1986 Sinatra bio writes that towards the end of filming Sinatra got so angry at one of the screenwriters, he chopped down the door of the writer's hotel room with an axe.
Considering the uniformly bad reviews that were awarded "Lady In Cement's" incomphrehensible screenplay, Frank's early review was probably the kindest."
Sinatra Does It Again
Michael A. Black | Blue Island, IL | 11/09/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One of the things that I admired about Frank Sinatra was his versatility and professionalism. Whenever he did something, be it a song or a movie, he threw himself into it. Lady in Cement, the second (and unfortunately the last) of his Tony Rome movies, shows that same dedication to his craft. While the movie's plot is sometimes hard to follow, the performances make it worthwhile. Sinatra plays the hardboiled, tough guy detective to perfection, but also has a sly smile on his face letting the audience know he's having a good time. Dan Blocker, who was just reaching beyond his Bonanza role of Hoss, gave us glimpse of the potential that was cut short by his untimely death. This was his last movie. And rounding things out is the beautiful Raquel Welch, whose stunning looks overshadowed the fact that she quite often tried to rise above the eye-candy parts she was given. While Lady in Cement is not quite up to its predecessor, Tony Rome, it's still good fun, and gives us a glimpse back at the end of the sixties. It was an era when, as Frank would've said, men were men and broads were broads."
Lady In Cement (1968)
Petter Sellers | 07/18/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
Now this is a movie with sharp dialogue, comic facial gestures (not over the top) and funny situations that does not fail to please.
Sinatra proves in this minimalist's guide to script a film that it takes nothing less than a good actor with substance to pull it off and come around as a winner. Sinatra has that magic touch; he can own a scene and make it work. Dan Blocker has that same quality, plus his physique; he creates a persona that is a study case for character actors.
Overall, a very entertaining film with many inside jokes. Notice that Sinatra at one point, when talking to Welch, says that he knew a girl that used to date bullfighters. Now if that was not a hint to Ava Gardner then the film The Barefoot Contessa just did not happen.
Therefore, relax, enjoy the film and remember to....