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Melodrama Exposes Its Own Weaknesses More Than It Does Those Of Its Targeted Subjects.
Since the beginnings of cinema, corruption on high has been a preeminent theme that transcends film genres, and has ever required a deft hand with a script in order to successfully pillory qualified targets. Unfortunately, such skill is not available for this shallowly constructed melodrama that provides no compelling angles, but rather a superfluity of plotting threads hugely contributing to a largely absurd scenario in the face of doubtless praiseworthy intentions. Sharing the spotlight with political chicanery is dishonesty among members of the media, Michael Nouri heading the cast as Roger Blackwell, a media adviser for well-known political figures including the standing United States President. Blackwell is depressed due to the suicide of his wife, an act he believes he should have prevented, and his career is on the downslide, accelerated thanks to a highly ambitious and unscrupulous television journalist, Molly Grainger (Anne Twomey), who specializes in pulling aside curtains behind which public figures hide their private deceptions. Blackwell gives himself credit for having a crucial role in the election successes for over a score of political aspirants for whom he served as media adviser, including the mentioned President, and although his career has soured following former lover Molly's guile and cunning, he has worked out a scheme that will avenge himself upon her, while at the same time regenerating his weakened standing in Washington. In conjunction with business partner Byron Caine (Jerry Orbach), Blackwell is preparing to produce a feature film that will reveal the full-sized part that media personalities and brokers such as Roger play in Washington politics, a perilous venture because agents of the Federal government, under the aegis of an "Ambassador" (Farley Granger with an accomplished turn), plan to derail the production, through violence if necessary, but Roger is certain that he has an ace in the hole by means of a damning audio tape that verifies collusion between the President (when a candidate for the office) and a leading organized crime boss, and he plans to gull Molly into exposing the contents of this tape during a television interview with him as guest, a gamble that might prove to be too risky by half. Unfavourable side effects result from a script that meanders in overmany directions, a viewer eventually feeling remote from all of them. There are able players aboard here, but there is little that they can do with their allocated dialogue, although Twomey sturdily tries to make something worthy of her leadenly written role. Post-production editing is proficient and moves the piece smartly along, a clear advantage to an audience.
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