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Harry Mitchell, an L.A. manufacturer with a fancy car, a nice house, and a wife running for city council, has his life overturned when three masked blackmailers appear with a video tape of Harry and his young mistress. He's been set up, and they want $105,000. To protect his wife's political ambitions, Harry won't go to the police; instead, he shines them on and then doesn't pay. They up their demands, so he goes on the offensive, tracking them down and trying to turn one against the other. Their sociopathic leader, Alan, responds with violence toward the mistress and menace toward Harry's wife. Will Harry let up and pay off Alan or can he find some other solution?Written by
The movie was filmed during April - June 1986. See more »
When Mitch is taken to a secret location to meet with the extortionists, he sits in a wooden chair against a "wall". He sees his mistress shot five times. After the bad guys leave, he jumps up when he realizes he is in the chair she was murdered in. But, when he first walks in, there is no blood on the chair or wall behind him. See more »
Then I asked the guy, I said, "Who told you where to find me?" Oh, he said it was you.
I didn't tell him! Jesus Christ! I didn't even tell him your first name!
OK! It could have been someone else!
All right, what about Doreen, huh? I mean, she went out with him!
She wouldn't talk to him.
How do you know that?
Because she's a friend of mine. And she knows if I found out, I'd throw her dead ass off a roof.
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UK cinema and video versions were cut by 1 min 36 secs and heavily edit a scene where Harry watches a video showing a topless woman being tied to a chair and shot to death. The cuts were waived for the 2004 MGM DVD. See more »
I've only read one of Leonard's crime novels and it didn't impress me much with its style. The guy writes as if he's producing a technical manual with people instead of parts. But the plot was interesting and dense, as it is in this movie.
Roy Scheider never turns in a bad performance, and here his face is beginning to look comely and battered with time. He's also from Orange, New Jersey, which is a good place to start from. Scheider is Harry, a morally flawed businessman with a mechanical bent. Ann-Margaret is breathtakingly good looking, and her performance is exceptional. The same could be said of Vanity, but her part is rather small. The villains are all superb. John Glover is a delight to watch on screen -- and to listen to -- with that slimy smile and midlands Maryland accent that descends into working-class vulgar when the situation calls for it. He's the kind of villain who would enjoy pulling hooks out of fish. He and Scheider played well off one another in "The Last Embrace." Clarence Williams is a sort of doggedly cunning and brutal muscleman, done quietly but effectively.
There's something oddly amusing about Williams' villainy. After Scheider and Ann-Margaret have clobbered him following a botched murder attempt (a little hard to believe), he sits in a chair having his picture taken while Scheider implants in his mind a few seeds of doubt about the probity of his partners in crime. An expression of dumb comprehension creeps slowly over his face and his eyes squint over his bleeding nose.
Robert Trebor (terrific name, by the way, a palindrome) gives a nearly perfect imitation of a guy who is a sweating, shaking, desperately twitching nervous wreck, but still with his eye pinned on profit and, mostly, survival. What a trio of villains.
The plot is, as I say, dense, but not difficult to follow. The story is in a style that Northrop Frye called low mimetic: Scheider is no hero, and in fact no better than the rest of us. That's what makes his outwitting of the trio so interesting. Frankenheimer's direction is fine, no flashy shots or dazzling fireworks. The story pulls a viewer along on its own terms. Not a masterpiece, but a cleverly done genre piece, it's worth seeing. Can't imagine why people flock to schlock while a movie like this goes by mostly unnoticed.
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