Tuesday, 22 November 2011
The A-Team ("Pros and Cons", 1983; 2010)
A library book provides the convoluted device to free impresario Hannibal from the stockade. A deus ex machina is provided in the form of a fumus ex libro - his weekend's reading has a cigar hidden in the spine. It's laced with poison, so that the colonel can mimic death, escape the flames of the prison crematorium, steal a technician's coat, and walk straight out. Every American soldier in the film knows Hannibal on sight, except for those who have held him in captivity for six months.
The writer of this rubbish probably wasn't aware that, coincidentally, the only library book to feature in the television series was also used in a prison-bust-out story. In an early episode Hannibal, BA, and Murdock get themselves thrown into a rural slammer to save one of BA's pals from a vicious warden. Face pretends to be an Ivy League professor sent by the US Senate to investigate prison policy. The book, with Face's picture somehow transposed onto the dust-jacket, is his calling card. Yes, this is also implausible and not done particularly well (strangely for a library book, it lacks labels and stamps), but the acting is charming, the scripting is clever, the story proceeds along a clear, even thread, and the A-Team save the day without resorting to high-end pyrotechnics, moral flim-flam, or ladles of irony.