He had everything and wanted nothing. He learned that he had nothing and wanted everything. He saved the world and then it shattered. The path to enlightenment is as sharp and narrow as a razor's edge.
****SPOILERS**** Right at the start of the movie "Laguna Heat" you get an insight of what to expect. We see, in flashback, Tom Shephard's, Harry Hamlin, father, Wade, Jason Robards Jr, jumping off a pier by the Pacific Ocean not to kill himself but to temp the fates in seeing if he could evade and survive the rocks just as he hits the waves when they roll in.
Tom is telling this to a psychiatrist who's treating him for depression after his partner in the LA police Department was murdered as Tom was unable to draw his gun fast enough to stop the street thug from killing him. Getting a transfer out of LA to Laguna Beach where Tom comes from to become a member of the local police department where his father worked as a cop for some 20 years.
Over-cooked and half-baked the movie "Laguna Heat" has as many sub-plots as chapters in Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace" and as many twists and turns as the Burma Road. As Tom begins his job there's two different torch-murders committed. Both persons Tim Algeron and Hope Chasen not only knew each other but that Tim left four massages on Hope's phone audio machine trying to warn her that she, as well as he, were in danger.Tom goes to see Tim's daughter Jean, Catherine Hicks, to get information about him but hits a brick wall.
Meanwhile Tom's father Wade, who's running a mission in town for homeless drunk and drug addicted people in the area, who was a recovering alcoholic himself goes back to hitting the bottle because of the deaths of Tim & Hope who he was very close to. It turns out that the puppet master in this whole affair is the local mob boss Joe Datila, Rip Torn, who's also Tom's Godfather. All of a sudden we go back some forty or so years to find the answer to what's happening in Laguna Beach. Datila was a local hoodlum from New Jersey who moved to California after WWII to start his crime empire in Laguna Beach. Now Datila is about to become legit and very wealthy to the point were he's in line to be appointed US Ambassador to Belgium and about to close a deal with a group of Japanese real-estate magnets that will make him one half billion dollars. Tom also finds out that his mother, Colleen's, killer Azul Marcante, Dehl Bern, who murdered her when he was a little boy was paroled from jail just before the two murders of Tim & Hope and feels that he's the one who committed them.
Tracking down Marcante at the Sun/Spot Hotel where he was staying and working as an artist Tom after chasing him all over the dance floor as well as in and out of the hotel rooms and bar shoots and kills him. Now here's were the movie becomes a little bit confusing. It turns out that Marcante was framed for killing Colleen by Datila who paid off the judge and witnesses to rule as well as testify against him. It turned out that is was really, are you ready, Tom's father Wade who killed his mother when he found her having an affair with, yes that's right, Marcante.
Pulling out his service revolver Wade shot at Marcante but Colleen jumped in the way and took the bullet for him thus killing her. The biggest surprise of all is Marcante may very well be Tom's father! Tom finds all this out from Datila's former lover Helene Long, Anne Francis, who said that she expects to be killed very soon by Datila to keep her quiet that's why she telling him all of this.
Helene also told Tom that Hope's husband, Burt, was killed by, you guessed it, Datila's gangsters because he knew too much and was asking for more and more money to keep his mouth shut. Wade being blackmailed about killing Colleen and in debt to Datila then covered up Burt's murder. Helene also told Tom that was also the reason that both Tim & Hope was murdered, they knew too much and had big mouths that was a threat to Datila's future plans.Not long after Helen told Tom all this she was found dead from a drug overdose. With both Tom and the murdered Tim Algeron's daughter Jean feeling close since they both lost a parent to a criminal act they get even closer by burning up the screen in a number or torrid sex scenes that gave the movie it's name: "Laguna Heat".
It turns out that Datila was knocking off all the people who can blackmail him and keep him from becoming a US Ambassador and the only one alive who can give him any trouble is the almost, by now, dead-drunk Wade Shephard. Datila getting one of his hoods Harman, Jeff Kober, to do the job on Wade as well as Jean, for good measure, by setting them aflame and making it look like they were killed in a brush fire. Tom comes to the rescue and beats a confession out of Harman getting him to implicate Datila. Still Tom knows that if he has to arrest Datila he'll have to also arrest his own father for murdering his wife and Tom's mother Colleen which Datila covered up. As well as having again to arrest Wade for covering up Datila's murder of Burt Chasen.
Unbelievably complicated movie that's far harder to follow and understand then graduating top of the class in a Ivy League College that after suffering through it makes you, like Wade, want to crawl into a bottle and do your best to forget that you ever saw the film.
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