Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins (1975)

“He’s just along for the ride — you know that, don’t you? He’s not at all like us.”

Rafferty Poster

Synopsis:
A former gunnery sergeant (Alan Arkin) is kidnapped by two free-spirited young women — Frisbee (Mackenzie Phillips) and Mackinley (Sally Kellerman) — but soon finds himself enjoying a road trip across America with them.

Genres:

Review:
More than three decades before his Academy Award-winning role in Little Miss Sunshine (2006), Alan Arkin starred in another quirky road flick — this oddly titled, little-seen character study about several misfits (there are no twins, or gold dust) searching for love and adventure across America. More a series of vignettes than a cohesive narrative, Rafferty is at its best when it focuses on the developing relationships between the three protagonists, who each undergo personal changes throughout the course of the film. While Phillips’ performance consists primarily of pouting (at least during the first two-thirds of the story), Arkin is as excellent as always, and Kellerman truly shines as “Mackinley”, a free-spirited hippie whose casual fling with Rafferty (Arkin) immediately disrupts the trio’s dynamic. The best (and funniest) scene involves Phillips conning a naive soldier (a perfectly-cast Charles Martin Smith) out of his money and engagement ring; while one initially feels sorry for Smith, he soon shows his snivelly true colors. The bittersweet ending implies a sequel, which obviously never happened; Rafferty basically went under the radar, and has remained there since.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Alan Arkin as Rafferty
    Rafferty Arkin
  • Sally Kellerman as Mackinley
    Rafferty Kellerman
  • Charles Martin Smith as a naive soldier duped by Frisbee
    Rafferty Smith

Must See?
No, but it’s worth a look simply for the performances. Listed as a Sleeper in the back of Peary’s book.

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One Response to “Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins (1975)”

  1. First viewing. Not a must and in total agreement with the assessment, so…not much to add, really. An enjoyable-enough flick if you happen to run across it – but certainly odd –

    – and extremely implausible. Road movies can be fun for a writer, in the sense that one is not tied to structure and anything can happen. It’s rather amazing that this one holds together, the way it stretches credibility.

    Much is to the credit of the three leads. Phillips had little film career before turning to tv but she’s not uninteresting here (and not unlike a young Carol Burnett). Kellerman’s filmography has been an odd one; it’s almost hard to know her true capability (tho she shines as well in ‘M.A.S.H.’ and ‘Brewster McCloud’, etc.).

    Then there’s Arkin. Surprisingly, I don’t call this film a must when I kind of think any film with him in it should be seen – he’s THAT good. (And THAT sexy; have always thought so, and always will.) It’s mind-boggling that this guy hasn’t had a more distinguished film career. He started out with some back-to-back stunners, but then it seemed it was not easy for him to get suitable roles.

    Fave scene: when Arkin is faux-ragging on Phillips: “You have enough unhappiness in you for 9 people.”, etc.

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