6.7/10
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19 user 51 critic

Mala Noche (1986)

Not Rated | | Drama | 19 June 1987 (West Germany)
A story of amour fou. Walt is madly in love/lust with a young illegal Mexican immigrant. However, the object of his unrequited affection doesn't even speak any English and finds Walt really... See full summary »

Director:

Gus Van Sant

Writers:

Walt Curtis (story), Gus Van Sant (screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tim Streeter Tim Streeter ... Walt
Doug Cooeyate Doug Cooeyate ... Johnny
Ray Monge Ray Monge ... Roberto Pepper
Nyla McCarthy Nyla McCarthy ... Betty
Sam Downey Sam Downey ... Hotel Clerk
Robert Lee Pitchlynn Robert Lee Pitchlynn ... Drunk Man (as Bob Pitchlynn)
Eric Pedersen Eric Pedersen ... Policeman
Marty Christiansen Marty Christiansen ... Bar Friend
George Conner George Conner ... Wino (as Bad George Connor)
Don Chambers Don Chambers ... Himself
Walt Curtis Walt Curtis ... George
Kenny Presler Kenny Presler ... Street Hustler
Conde Benavides Conde Benavides ... Arcade Amigo
Cristo Stoyos Cristo Stoyos ... Greek Singer
Matt Cooeyate Matt Cooeyate ... Boxcar Amigo
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Storyline

A story of amour fou. Walt is madly in love/lust with a young illegal Mexican immigrant. However, the object of his unrequited affection doesn't even speak any English and finds Walt really strange and undesirable. Written by Cristian Redferne <sage1997@geocities.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

If you fuck with the bull, you get the horn

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

MK2 [France]

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

19 June 1987 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Bad Night See more »

Filming Locations:

Portland, Oregon, USA

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Box Office

Budget:

$25,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

First film directed by Gus Van Sant. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Walt Curtis: [voice-over narration] Working in the store Sunday all day, I want to drink this Mexican boy Johnny Alonzo from L.A. near Riverside. He makes my heart throb - thumpety, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum - when I see him.
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Connections

Referenced in Rescued from the Closet (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

Balderama
Performed by Border Crossing
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User Reviews

He who fools with the bull gets the horn!
8 February 2000 | by GothickSee all my reviews

In the summary, the word "fools" should more accurately be another English word with four letters, but I doubt whether the regulations for this site will permit that. That is the subtitle for this movie and it does tell one side of the story. Another side involves the randomness of life in Portland, a city that's more like an overgrown small town with a big seamy underbelly and lots of folks eking out an existence on the margins. This movie shows with subtly limned images and snatches of wry, realistic dialogue just how vast and differentiated the landscape of "the margins" is in this town. And maybe, too, in that weird district of the Twilight Zone known as America.

Twilight is a state of mind that provides the true setting for this story that seems to be a fragment of a greater whole, but nevertheless has its own peculiar beauty. The black and white photography is stunning and seductive, and perfect for the film noir desperation (occasionally melodramatic but never posturing) with which these characters seem to run their lives. The director uses chiaroscuro, the play of light and shadow over the faces and bodies of his players, to hint at people's emotions or to suggest the cluelessness with which they get through the day. Despite the sense of general confusion, there are poignant and powerful emotions that surface here, thanks to the skillfully nuanced photography and the expressiveness of the actors.

The casting is perfect, but among the actors only Tim Streeter really seems to give a coherently thought-through performance. Streeter, to judge from his performance here, is an actor of brilliance and considerable sensitivity--it's sad that his only other credit is a 1987 appearance on 21 Jump Street. A lot of the shots in the movie are composed with great inventiveness, but the visual beauty that results never feels arty or contrived, mainly because of the gritty realities that encompass the characters' lives and passions.

Certain scenes in this movie made me think of images that surface in the songs of indie bard Elliott Smith, whose music was used in Gus van Sant's much glitzier mainstream movie, Good Will Hunting. Images of lonely people smoking late nights away over cheap beers in loud bars, waiting for their sense of woundedness to dull sufficiently so that they can go back out on the street and face some semblance of life again. The use of music is yet another element that gives Mala Noche a distinctive flavor--the music credits cover several screens at the end of the movie--as one would expect with a director who is also a composer and musician in his own right.

Poetic, frail, fragmentary and haunting, this is one of those movies where, even if you never quite get the story, certain images from it will nevertheless linger a long time in your memory after you have seen it.


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