In 1957, black lawyer John Williams has to defend his nephew Charlie, who is accused of strangling a white boy to death. John doesn't believe Charlie did it, and although Charlie confesses,... See full summary »
Ernest R. Dickerson
Courtney B. Vance,
Charles S. Dutton,
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A black soldier in World War II England begins an affair with a white woman whose husband is a soldier currently overseas in battle and in doubts of her relationship with him as she ... See full summary »
The bar in an old Pennsylvania steel town, housed with many of life's losers and disillusioned men, is the main setting for this slice-of-life film. Michael Madsen is the bar owner, who is ... See full summary »
Jim Natter, the leader of a violent Kuk Klux Klan lodge, is shot dead. His teenage son Eric Natter is found nearby, and taken into police custody for his protection pending the investigation. While four cops drive him to a safe-house, they are ambushed. Three of them shot dead, including Deputy Lawrence, and his black partner Jerry Robinson is accused of the murders. Written by
Actually there have been quite a few features, made-fors, and miniseries shot in and around Wilmington, North Carolina, as this one was. Wilmington has the second largest assemblage of studios in the country, outside of Burbank. The problem is, most of the things shot there are turkeys. Not including "Crimes of the Heart" and "Blue Velvet" and one or two others, which my own performances rendered memorable.
Considering the schlock as a class in itself, this probably rates a B. It isn't as bad as it could be. Of course it's filled with clichés. Shoot outs take place in which thousands of rounds are exchanged with no one having to pause and reload their weapons. A black detective on the run has to protect the racist 12-year-old son of a Klan member, and we know their relationship will evolve, and we know the direction that evolution will take.
The good guys are completely good, while the bad guys are somewhat less one dimensional -- let's say they have one and a half dimensions. But it has a few interesting directorial touches; odd angles are used effectively and bodies and objects are moved around with efficiency.
The racial issue is nicely handled. A black man makes tender love to a white woman and it's treated matter-of-factly. And the movie is as much watchable for what it doesn't include as for what it does: no slow-motion deaths, no car chases. The acting is not bad, particularly on the part of the twelve-year-old racist.
Just before the climax, Shannon has a line, "Take him out to the cement factory." This refers to a real cement factory on Blue Clay Road which has been used as a location in several other films. It served as a prison twice, in "Weeds" and again in "Everybody Wins." It's always good to see Dick Olson in a Wilmington movie, and he has a small part in just about every one, in this case, a motel manager. He's a nice guy as well as a reliable character actor.
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