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After being released from prison on a bum charge, Harry Barber is out for some payback to regain the two years he has lost. He is hired by Mrs. Malroux to fake the kidnapping of her stepdaughter (the daughter of a dying millionaire). He discovers that he is being set up on multiple levels and will soon face a longer prison sentence if he does not prove the truth to the police. Written by
Jason Ihle <email@example.com>
When Harry is told by the judge that his conviction was overturned, Harry yells at the judge and the judge turns off the feed, leaving the screen black. In the next shot when Harry rushes towards the television, the image of the judge at his desk has returned. See more »
[palmetto bug chirping over typical prison sounds]
They're not as bad as you might think. In fact, sometimes they're pretty good company.
And you can get used to just about anything in prison, even a palmetto bug.
I tried writing again. Nothing came out that didn't sound bitter and cynical. And there's nothing worse than a writer who doesn't have anything to say.
Well... that's me, Harry Barber.
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This brilliantly-written film has everything a great film noir movie needs. First and foremost, the femme fatale Rhea Malroux, played with cunning accuracy by Elisabeth Shue, and the sucker who gets screwed over, Harry Barber, played by Woody Harrelson. Another important and necessary element is the sticky, hot Florida climate, that adds to the erotic atmosphere. The money is the object of everyone's desire as well. Because of all this and much more, "Palmetto" achieves what every film noir film shoots for. Thrills, surprises, murder and steam. Trailers and reviews made the film sound like a sex romp, when in reality there isn't one nudity shot in the whole thing. Because "Palmetto" is not about nudity. It's more than that, like any good film noir is. It's about TEASING. About strutting and never showing all the goods. Rhea Malroux struts her stuff alright, but never strips. And that's much better than gratuitous sex and nudity. Much better. The film focuses more on the plot, about a fake kidnapping scheme that is sure to please everyone...if it goes smoothly. And of course, it doesn't. Bodies turn up, and people are not who they seem. Harry Barber quickly realizes he's gotten too deep in something he never should have gotten involved in. But after serving two years of a four-year sentence in an 8X10 jail cell for a crime he didn't commit, he feels someone owes him. So he agrees to participate in a fake kidnapping that will get the wife of rich Felix Malroux 500,000 dollars and Harry a nice whopping 50,000. But because Harry is not naughty by nature, he doesn't do well disguising his innocence and his guilt comes through, sweating profusely when the DA Renick calls him in to act as reporter, Harry can't take the "heat". He attempts to call the whole thing off, but once told the money's already been delivered, he can't help it. He wants back in. E. Max Frye is the brilliance here, for his script says it all. Based on an old pulp novel "Just Another Sucker" by European author James Hadley Chase, the film is directed by Volker Schlondorff, who should also be commended. The acting is first rate, and purposefully over-the-top by brilliant Elisabeth Shue as the best femme fatale I personally have ever seen grace the silver screen. This is not a must rent, it's a must BUY!
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