The Iceman Cometh

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"They drank and they dreamed...tomorrow they would conquer the world...then along came Hickey."
  • PG
  • 1973
  • 3 hr 59 min
  • 7.2  (1,847)
  • 76

The Iceman Cometh is a 1973 film adaption of the renowned Eugene O'Neill play of the same name. The movie boasts a star-studded cast led by Lee Marvin, Fredric March, and Robert Ryan. It is directed by John Frankenheimer who takes great pains to stay true to the original play's spirit and tone, despite making some crucial changes to the script.

The film takes place in a rundown New York City bar in the early 20th century. The bar, owned by Harry Hope (played by March), attracts a motley crew of regulars who come to drink, gamble, and share their stories of life's disappointments. These men have lost all hope of ever finding happiness and have resigned themselves to a life of despair and self-pity.

Enter Hickey (played by Marvin), a charismatic and mysterious salesman who has a reputation for selling people on the idea of a better life. Hickey is welcomed with open arms by the bar's patrons, who are eager to hear his latest tales of success and self-improvement. However, as the night wears on, Hickey's true intentions come to light, and it becomes evident that he has a plan to shatter the illusions of the bar's denizens and force them to confront their demons.

The movie's themes revolve around the psychological and emotional breakdown of individuals who have lost faith in themselves and society at large. The story explores how people can take refuge in lies and illusions to avoid facing the harsh realities of life. Furthermore, it investigates the potential consequences of having one's illusions shattered, and what it would mean to be forced to confront the truth.

Lee Marvin's performance as Hickey is charismatic and enthralling, and he captures the complex nature of his character exceptionally well. Hickey is both intriguing and unsettling, and Marvin's portrayal masterfully conveys the character's inner turmoil and the profound existential crisis that he himself is going through. Fredric March is also a standout as Harry Hope, infusing his character with a sense of whimsy and tragedy simultaneously.

The story's narrative structure is deliberately cyclical, much like the bar itself, where the patrons' daily routine is to drink and bury themselves in sorrow. The Iceman Cometh is a slow burn, where the action and revelations unfold gradually throughout the course of the movie. This pace is deliberate, as it builds towards a powerful, emotionally charged climax that perfectly encapsulates the themes of the play.

The film's cinematography is impressive, creating a dark, seedy atmosphere that perfectly captures the dingy aesthetic of a New York City bar in the early 20th century. The camera work is frequently close-up, allowing for a greater sense of intimacy with the characters and enabling the audience to feel a greater connection to them.

Despite being an adaptation of a stage play, The Iceman Cometh is an engaging and thought-provoking film, largely due to strong performances from its lead actors and Frankenheimer's competent direction. The movie is both somber and tragically beautiful, with its characters seeking redemption but ultimately failing to find it. It's a story that stays with you long after you've finished watching it, and it serves as a poignant reminder of the fragility of the human soul.

The Iceman Cometh is a 1973 drama with a runtime of 3 hours and 59 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.2 and a MetaScore of 76.

The Iceman Cometh
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    3 hr 59 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.2  (1,847)
  • Metascore