Alcatraz is the most secure prison of its time. It is believed that no one can ever escape from it, until three daring men make a possible successful attempt at escaping from one of the most infamous prisons in the world.
Frank Horrigan is a secret service agent who keeps thinking back to November 22, 1963, when, as a hand-picked agent by President Kennedy, he became one of the few agents to have lost a President to an assassin when Kennedy died. Now, former CIA assassin Mitch Leary is stalking the current President, who is running for re-election. Mitch has spent long hours studying Horrigan, and he taunts Horrigan, telling him of his plans to kill the President. Leary plans to kill the president because Leary feels betrayed by the government -- Leary was removed from the CIA, and the CIA is now trying to have him killed. After talking to Leary, Horrigan makes sure he is assigned to presidential protection duty, working with fellow secret service agent Lilly Raines. Horrigan has no intention of failing his President this time around, and he's more than willing to take a bullet. White House Chief of Staff Harry Sargent refuses to alter the President's itinerary, while Horrigan's boss, Secret Service ... Written by
Clint Eastwood could do no wrong in the early Nineties.
Hot on the heels of Unforgiven, he teamed up with The Perfect Storm director Wolfgang Petersen for one of the best thrillers of the decade - In the Line of Fire.
Imagine a cross between The Day of the Jackal and The Bodyguard and you get the idea.
Hollywood's craggiest leading man plays Frank Horrigan, a troubled bodyguard assigned to protect the US president against a psychopathic assassin.
John Malkovich delivers a stunning performance as the man on the end of the trigger and acclaimed German director Petersen directs with such skill, Eastwood even asked his advice when he came to direct A Perfect World.
Clint was 63 when he made this and brought a lifetime of experience to the role of a world weary Secret Service agent haunted by the fact he failed to save President Kennedy from the fatal bullet.
The clever use of a doctored photo by Hollywood whiz kids shows the actor/director stood at the side of JFK. A nice touch which is well worth looking out for.
To be honest, ITLOF is a cliched thriller, the sort of story which crops up most weeks as a glossy, no brain offering on Channel 5.
However, both director and stars took the well worn material and gave it a fresh spin, upping the tension several notches with each passing scene, resulting in a spectacular finale which is great value for money.
Rene Russo is so good she could play the part in her sleep. The former model adds a degree of mature charm to her role of an agent who Horrigan believes is mere `window dressing' for the department.
As with all of Wolfgang's movies, believability is everything. A rare degree of authenticity was achieved during the crowd scenes when the German film-maker integrated his fictitious President with the crowds from the Clinton and Bush election campaign.
The cost? A cool $4million.
The script had been knocking around Hollywood for a decade before it was dusted down and given a green light. It was originally to star Dustin Hoffman (who signed up for Petersen's follow up, Outbreak).
British director Michael Apted (The World is Not Enough) was due to direct the Hoffman version, but when David Puttnam took over as the head of Columbia in 1987, the movie was put on hold.
Producer Jeff Apple (a man more known in the trade for his interactive shopping shows than films) brought in Jeff Maguire to polish up the script.
The idea of Horrigan as an agent who failed to stop JFK's untimely death gave the movie a twist that Hollywood execs found delicious.
Before long, there was a feeding frenzy over the new, improved script and eventually, Rob Reiner's Castle Rock company snapped it up for a million dollars with Clint Eastwood on board.
Petersen had wanted Harrison Ford, but eventually cast him as the President in Air Force One (which you may remember was the film of the week a couple of weeks ago).
As any Clint fan knows, he's a jazz fan - a passion shared by Horrigan in what seemed to be a tailor made role adapted for old Mr Squinty after he signed on the dotted line.
However, Frank's love of piano and jazz was already on the page - a happy accident which helped turn Horrigan into one of Clint's most likeable big screen characters.
Top drawer stuff.
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