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"The Lady in Question (1999)" starring Gene Wilder is a well-acted mystery
drama that reminds me of the old black-and-white Raymond Burr Perry Mason
series. Both Perry and "Cash" kept me guessing right up to the end. There
were many suspects with a motive for the murder, but I had no idea which
character it would be.
Gene Wilder has a special charming wit about him, even in his facial expressions and vocal inflections which make him perfect for the part. The portions of the movie which portrayed actors acting was done very well. I'm sure this is an additional challenge for the cast to pull off. I am not surprised to see that he did some of the writing for the movie. Even his singing was a delight. I like him in this role more than his former "sillier" roles like "The Young Frankenstein" and "Willy Wonka." I am hoping A & E will continue this series. They ought to call it something like "The A & E Gene Wilder Mysteries."
The music fit the period. I enjoyed the cool live combo and the swing tunes. I was a little unclear at the beginning whether we were seeing a flashback or whether the action was taking place in that time period. And I do not agree that the inclusion of profanity is necessary to the flow of the script. To me, that always distracts.
Overall, my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed this second in a well-crafted start in what we hope will be many others -- just like one of our other favorites: Raymond Burr's Perry Mason.
It is 1938. Elderly and wealthy Jewish-rights activist Emma Sachs is on
a plane when stewardess Mimi Barnes introduces herself because they
have a common acquaintance. As she leaves the plane, Emma pushes a note
into Mimi's hands that says "I'm going to be murdered". Later that
night, Emma tells her family (who are used to the comfortable life)
that she is going to change her will and use the vast majority of her
estate to support those fighting the rise of the Nazi's. Meanwhile Mimi
has mentioned this to her boyfriend, theatre director Larry Carter, who
in turn has asked his cop friend Detective Tony Rossini in Stamford to
take a look in on the Sachs house the next day. However during the
night Sachs suffers a massive stroke and dies shortly afterwards.
Rossini finds evidence of foul play and turns to Mimi and Larry to help
Although this looked like a pretty basic television film I decided to give it a go for some reason. After a bit of a slow start the film gets into the mystery and down to the business of investigating the murder of Sachs. At this point it doesn't suddenly become a brilliant film but it does settle into the stride of a tvm mystery series and it wears it pretty well. The story itself lacks tension and pace but it plods along nicely with an interesting development across the time. It is nothing brilliant of course and it all feels very light and perhaps lacking in almost everything but it isn't actually "bad" and pushes the buttons for those who demand little.
Part of the reason I actually quite liked it was a great little turn the undervalued Mike Starr. He may have little to work with and not excel himself but he does dominate the film and bring much needed energy to the whole affair. Wilder is a nice presence but his performance made me think that really what he wants from his career now is lots of light fare that he won't find too taxing. Jones is OK and has an easy chemistry with most of her colleagues. The general support is not so memorable but they are mostly OK.
Overall this is a gentle and enjoyable mystery film that should please those of us just looking for something easy to watch on a slow weekend afternoon. It doesn't do anything that special but it is quite fun in its own easy way a bit more energy and urgency would have been good but Starr helps that a bit with his entertaining if unsurprising performance.
I love murder mysteries, particularly those of Agatha Christie(not that
it is Christie, but it does have some elements of her plotting), and I
like Gene Wilder so when I heard of Lady in Question I decided to give
it a go. I wasn't expecting absolute perfection, considering it was a
TV movie, I didn't get that, but what I got was a pretty satisfying and
overall pleasant way to spend a couple of hours.
It does I do agree start off slowly complete with some draggy moments in the middle half, the plot does fall into predictability a little too much and the script has its weak spots.
However, I liked how it was filmed. The scenery, costumes, settings, hairstyles and make-up are authentic, charming and beautiful-looking. The soundtrack is nice and swinging and the direction is decent. The final solution did at least make some sense, and the film does have a somewhat appreciative nostalgic feel to it. The acting is nothing extraordinary but it was actually pretty good; Gene Wilder has been better, but he does a good job in the role of the theatre impresario turned detective. Claire Bloom is a nice touch as the anti-Nazi activist, while Mike Starr is surprisingly delightful as a detective and Barbara Sukowa is solid as a German sophisticate.
Overall, nothing brilliant, but I have to admit I quite liked it no matter how many faults it had. 7/10 Bethany Cox
This is just one more example of the absolute genius of Gene Wilder. He wrote and starred in this terrific mystery. No one could have done it better. The suspense was palpable throughout. I wish Mr. Wilder would grace us with another of these. I have enjoyed everything I have ever seen Mr. Wilder in but I had no idea how truly talented he was until I saw "Murder in a Small Town," and this follow-on. He truly has a firm grasp on what audiences want and how to deliver it in his writing and, of course, in his brilliant acting. His subtle wit comes through in spades. I would recommend this movie to anyone who likes mysteries and/or Gene Wilder's film work. His star just gets brighter and brighter.
A delightful if somewhat predictable TV movie, though I admit a little bias -- as far as I'm concered, the more Gene Wilder in this world the better. I'd love to see numerous additional movies detailing the adventures of Larry "Cash" Carter!
Unspeakably discombobulated turkey, a mix of anti-Nazi musical (!!),
pre-war Americana and Agatha Christie whodunit spoof with one big, big
problem: it's deadly unfunny. Besides the single-digit I.Q. plot and
dialog, the most amazing aspect of "Lady..." is the berserk casting.
Gene Wilder (star AND co-writer) tries hard at it all: he plays a
romantic lead (with his looks!! and his age!! he and Woody Allen should
start a club for clueless, mirrorless ageing comedians), and he tries
to be moving and funny and poignant and smart, and tries to sing and
dance, and succeeds in NONE!! A looong shot from his good old days with
For a while I thought I was having a myopia fit, because everybody in the movie keeps saying Cherry Jones is this pretty hot chick, and that Michael Cumpsty is this impossibly handsome stallion!! The guy who plays Claire Bloom's male secretary is a bespectacled balding thin actor as sexy as a chair and is the object of passion of the two leading ladies!! Mike Starr's over-the-top acting as the most incompetent, phoniest cop you EVER saw deserves to rank among the 10 most abhorrent performances in recent film history. The saddest note is to see wonderful Claire Bloom and Barbara Sukowa completely miscast and offensively wasted. At least I hope both stars payed their bills back home (and subsequently fired their agents) with this flop. No wonder acting prodigy Sukowa returned to Germany after she saw what Hollywood had in store for her!!
If you want to see how to accomplish a really bad film out of a really bad script with a berserk casting director, study this one - otherwise stay away!!! - 1/10
Good sequel to Murder in a Small Town. In this one Cash and his police Lt. buddy unravel a sticky plot involving a Nazi criminal, a philanthropic witch, and a family of screw-ups and their wierdo helpers. As in the original, the viewer is treated to a nice little mystery with distinctive sights and sounds of pre-war America. Go see it.
Pleasant, diverting and charming. The best part is the swing numbers, especially the rendition of My Buddy, partial though it may have been. The acting was a bit over the top in areas but the mood set by Wilder is so pleasant it is hard not to enjoy this film.
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