Pocket Money doesn’t move: It moseys. There is virtually no story, unless Paul Newman going to Mexico to buy some rodeo steers qualifies as a plot. Newman plays Jim, a genial mental slowpoke who hooks up with his pal Leonard (Lee Marvin). Leonard sure has a way with words: ”They’re delightful-looking cattle,” he casually remarks. Later, during a cattle drive (hilariously scored to Dixieland music), Jim informs Leonard in all seriousness that cattle cultivate friendships like humans do. As buddy movies go, this one sure is droll.
Written by Terrence Malick, who later went on to make Badlands and Days of Heaven, the movie doesn’t go anywhere. It apparently doesn’t want to go anywhere. There’s no real ending. But there are no clichés, either. It’s just Paul and Lee hanging out, playing off each other beautifully, every exchange of dialogue a gloveless, effortless toss ‘n’ catch, sparkling under Laszlo Kovacs’ sun-kissed cinematography. Pocket Money is perfect for the vacationing mind watching video: Leave the room, come back, and you can pick up where you left off without hitting the pause button. B