Please update your browser

You're using a version of Internet Explorer that isn't supported by Questia.
To get a better experience, go to one of these sites and get the latest
version of your preferred browser:

This Is Not a Game: Alan J. Pakula's Rollover

By Hughes, Jack | CineAction, Spring 2005 | Go to article overview

This Is Not a Game: Alan J. Pakula's Rollover


Hughes, Jack, CineAction


This piece will argue for Alan J. Pakula's 1981 film Rollover as an undervalued work, and I think the underlying premise--that no one places much value on the film--is fairly uncontroversial. I've been bringing it up in conversations here and there for the last few months and I've barely found anyone who's even heard of it. It's available on video (not on DVD) but isn't among the 9,000 titles at the Toronto Film Reference Library; an Internet search turns up nothing except bland movie-encyclopedia citations. Leonard Maltin's guide calls it "laughably pretentious, barely comprehensible." (1) Of a handful of comments on the Internet Movie Database, this one is not too untypical; "The short side of the story is that this has to be one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Rhythm-wise, the movie is dead. It makes you feel like you are attending a lecture on economy at the university. And to think that I watched the movie because it was described as a 'thriller!'"

It's About Money

Rollover, a fundamentally pessimistic film despite an overall accessible tone and a final note of hope, posits that the interdependency of the financial system is unsustainable, and that a ripple of eroded confidence might bring it down. I personally think the film is a masterpiece, but I can see how reasonable people might differ on this. It hasn't aged well in some respects, and even if you like its aesthetic strategy as I do, you might not think it amounts to such a big deal in the scheme of things. What's less disputable, I think, is the film's enterprise in seeking to depict the complexity of the global financial system, and the ongoing relevance of this treatment. In a more realistic (albeit heavier-hearted) world, Rollover could be a contemporary equivalent for The Wizard Of Oz or Rebel Without A Cause, a film that finds new resonance with each succeeding generation even as the advance of time anchors it more firmly and distantly in its period.

The film is about money, one of the very few non-documentary films (the only one I can really think of, but I won't claim perfect knowledge) that's about money in its macroeconomic rather than its direct, visceral manifestation. Of course we can all recall any number of movies containing scenes of dollar bills changing hands or being counted or thrown in the air or poured onto a naked woman, and it might be that every third or fourth movie is in some way about the corrosive effects of wealth (or its correlatives) or the desire to attain it. But if banking and finance are depicted at all, they're likely to be mere facades for generalized power-lust and narcissistic excess. I can think of a few movies--Wall Street, Boiler Room, Other People's Money--that tried to illuminate some of the capitalist machinery, but in varying degrees they're all flatly melodramatic. Oddly enough, Trading Places, with its climax turning on a play on orange futures, is one of the few films that evokes something of the system's huge opaque power.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

And when did you hear people in movies discuss the deficit or the debt or the balance of payments? Of course, you don't hear much in movies about the family values agenda either, and the US election seemed to show that this is a more pressing issue to the heartland voter than the machinations of the economy, however grim those might be. But cinema hasn't served us well here. God knows one never tires of love and relationships, but mightn't one of our leading filmmakers reflect that the incremental benefit to the audience of one more illustration of human foibles would likely be less than that of a rigorous examination of the influences that govern our future? Even The Corporation, so biting and periodically insightful on the erroneous way of companies, missed the big picture by failing to explore the complicity of governments (and, for that matter, that of greedy, complacent investors) in all this. So Pakula's enterprise in taking this on still strikes me as commendable, and would be even if the execution had been botched.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

This Is Not a Game: Alan J. Pakula's Rollover
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.