Read the O. Henry short story The Green Door before you see 'The Investigator'
To clue in the user bob the moo who obviously dissed this one because he/she didn't have the right frame of reference to get it: The origin of this short film is that it was made for a short-lived cable TV series in the USA (along with many others such as 'Teach 109' and 'Override', films that have more of a sci-fi theme to them). Destiny was the overarching theme of all the shorts made for this late 1990s series and 'The Investigator' is a stand-out.
The film is based on O'Henry's "The Green Door". The story has been cleverly adapted to a period that is closer to 1930-1940 rather than set in O. Henry's turn of the century (1900s) New York and to make Vincent D'Onofrio's lead character, Ephraim McDougal into a claims investigator -- in the original short story the protagonist Rudolf Steiner is a piano salesman. Both stories concern themselves with personal curiosity, timidity, following conventions, a romantic outlook, risk taking, and predestination.
bob the moo is just plain wrong; D'Onofrio NAILED his character -- he's simultaneously curious, shy, timid, observant, clever, fanciful and charming. He plays his character with a clever kind of physicality, knowing how to approach each strange event that befalls him, revealing his feelings with the slightest facial expressions, mannerisms and even in his subtle variations in his speech patterns. He and the script stay surprisingly faithful to how O. Henry saw Rudolph Steiner (and for that matter the vast majority of "The Four Million" of New York in the 1900s and "The 6+ Billion" that now populate our planet - all of us may well be 'grown stiff with the ramrod of convention down our backs' and generally unwilling 'to investigate' the strange and ordinary little mysteries of life that happen to confront us daily). This part is nothing like the roles of Detective Robert O. Goren, Edgar Bug, or Pvt Leonard Lawrence/Gomer Pyle -- it's small and anachronistic and surprisingly human in scale and a totally refreshing experience to be able to revel in something so ordinary and illustrates D'Onofrio's range and versatility better than those bigger bravura roles.
I won't say anymore for fear of spoiling 'The Investigator' but my all-time favorite short story was well adapted and retold in this film -- the costumes are great (right down to D'Onofrio's too-small hat), the sets well dressed and nicely lit, the music charming. Be sure to watch for Anne Heche, quirky pop singer Rachel Sweet, and 'Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman's' Frank Collison (Collison played Horace Bing in Dr. Quinn) in this one, an adaptation that stays true to the material on which it's based.
One of my all-time favorite D'Onofrio vehicles bar none.
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