6.5/10
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8 user 1 critic

With Murder in Mind (1992)

After being shot while trying to arrange the sale of a rural farm, a real estate agent desperately tries to bring the shooter to justice.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Gayle Wolfer
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Bob Sprague
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Samuel Carver (as Howard Rollins)
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Aunt Mildred
Lee Richardson ...
John Condon
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Benny Lazarra
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McLaughlin
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Susan Claridge
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Roger McBain
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Ted Sloan
Seret Scott ...
Sarah Bendix
Tom Even ...
Judge Kubiniec
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Storyline

Fact based story about real estate agent Gayle Wolfer who was shot and nearly killed by a man whom she was showing a house to. Even though she is physically and emotionally scarred from the incident, Gayle is determined to find her attacker. One day while she is at a county fair she recognizes the man who attacked her but she is shocked to find out he is a policeman. No one believes Gayle at first because the man is such an upstanding citizen but the case eventually goes to trial. Written by mts77

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Drama

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Release Date:

12 May 1992 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

With Savage Intent  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Stars Elizabeth Montgomery, Howard E. Rollins Jr., Maureen O'Sullivan and Lee Richardson all died within seven years of the film's release. See more »

Goofs

Gayle's and Susan's gags alternate back and forth from between their teeth and over their mouths between long shots and close-ups. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Verdict: Well, ummm....
29 July 2005 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

Elizabeth Montgomery as a real estate agent is robbed and shot while showing a house. She later spots the guy, Howard Rollins, at a fairground, where he's a volunteer mounted police officer. She reports him to the police, he's arrested and convicted, and is now serving a long sentence in Attica.

It's hard to know how to assess this movie. Not because of the execution, which is routine, and not because of the acting. The principals -- Montgomery, Rollins, and Foxworth are fine. In fact Montgomery looks rather better than "fine" despite her age and impending terminal illness.

It's that the movie seems to be self contradictory. It wants to assure us that justice has been carried out but what we are shown leaves us with too many doubts.

It is all shown from the victim's point of view, which is okay in itself, except that we must realize that the living victim (this is based on a real incident) is liable to have a bit more weight when it comes to shaping the material than is the convicted black criminal who is now somebody's bitch upstate. We don't get to hear very much from Rollins.

Could Montgomery have been mistaken when she just happened to spot Rollins astride his horse at the fair? Well, she is absolutely certain. But another woman who was a witness says that Rollins resembles the perpetrator, but "on a scale of 10, he's a 7 or 8." (How do you measure something like "reasonable doubt"? What's the scale, and where's the threshold?) And why did Montgomery, having stumbled across the perp by accident and having immediately identified him to her own satisfaction, wait around until the next day to inform the police over a casual lunch about the event?

The trial itself doesn't seem to resolve any of these issues. Montgomery identifies Rollins' voice through a closed door but that's a notoriously poor means of identification. Out of three speakers in the line up, she had one chance in three of guessing Rollins even if he'd been innocent. Rollins may or may not have had some connection with drugs. But he's well spoken and is a prosperous upright citizen. He runs a security business that protects dozens of shopping centers, he goes to church regularly, has a family (which we don't get to see), is a part-time volunteer policeman with a good military record, has never had any run-ins with the law, and spends time working for United Way or something. No physical evidence links Rollins to the crime. Why should a paragon of citizenship like this rob someone of a couple of thousand dollars and shoot people unnecessarily?

On the other hand, why should someone in Elizabeth Montgomery's position lie? An interesting question, to which there are several reasonable replies. One is that she may not have been lying. After all a considerable time had passed since the crime. Maybe she was just mistaken.

Another answer, far more conjectural, is that she was acting out a fantasy of victimhood. There seem to be two favorite human fantasies -- the conquering hero and the suffering victim. The former is mostly a male fantasy and the second a feminine one. I don't mean to sound in any way anti-feminist about this. A moment's thought will do to support the idea. Who watches The Action Movie Channel more -- men or women? And for which gender is Lifetime Movies for Women designed? I just watched "With Murder in Mind" on the Lifetime Movies channel. During one of the commercial breaks, an ad asked the audience, "Who would you like to play YOU in a movie about YOUR life????" (The informant's choice was Angelina Jolie. She'd be my choice too but it would be a different kind of movie.)

In a way, this is a movie about the life of Elizabeth Montgomery's character's life and she plays the role of victim to the hilt. After her partial recovery from her wounds she becomes a demanding nervous wreck. She gets to drink too much. She doesn't have to work. She calls 911 every time a car pulls into the driveway. She makes a general nuisance of herself and at the same time gets people to feel sorry for her, which is having your cake and eating it too. Then she gets to be the central figure in a dramatic trial. She winds up seeing someone sent away for a long time based on her testimony and her moral authority as an innocent victim (which she undoubtedly was).

And now there's even a MOVIE about her life -- and she is played by Elizabeth Montgomery! Now, all of that constitutes a lot of reward, which Freud dismissed too easily as unimportant "secondary gains." But Freud was a psychologist, not a sociologist, and he probably never saw a movie in his life. And he certainly never heard of Andy Warhol.

I don't mean to say that the Montgomery character was a fraud, that she dreamed the whole thing up in order to become famous. Lots of times we do things without knowing the real reasons why we're doing them. But I do mean that although she was certain Rollins was the man, I wasn't convinced. And I suspect the writers and producers must have felt ambivalent about the justice of the conviction too, because they seem to hint that the whole case may have been a terrible mistake.

Sometimes it's good to be the suffering victim. I think I might enjoy having a painless and not-disfiguring temporary illness so that a doctor could examine me and tell me, "Spend the next three years in bed. And be sure to drink plenty of fluids."


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