Goodnight Sweet Wife: A Murder in Boston (1990 TV Movie)
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In October 1989, Chuck Stuart shot his heavily pregnant wife Carol in the head, shot himself in the back, and faked a carjacking, blaming the outrage on an unknown black assailant. Understandably this inflamed racial tensions in the City of Boston, although the hoax didn't hold up, but before Stuart could be arrested he did the decent thing and threw himself in the river.
Clearly this film contains much invented dialogue, but neither that nor the characterisations are important. What is important is that films like this are made, even if as here in indecent haste. Charles Stuart committed suicide January 4, 1990; "Goodnight Sweet Wife..." was released September 25 the same year.
A man with his pregnant wife is lost in a dangerous area of the city and attacked by black people. Later his wife and baby are dead. But investigations turn to unpredictable happenings...
So he decides to do what any red-blooded, God-fearing American would do, and he shoots her in the head. Then he shoots himself in the flank. All this takes place on a deserted street in the inner city, meaning the ghetto.
Olin drives to a main thoroughfare, calling the police, and groaning in genuine pain. He's disposed of all incriminating evidence and tells the police that it was done by a black man in a hoodie who jumped into the back seat. It must be a pretty plausible explanation because it's used often enough and sometimes eagerly accepted. The Boston police roust every black man in sight, as police are wont to do under these conditions, and enrage the African-American community. The rage is downplayed in the movie, practically limited to one sermon in a black church.
Eventually, everything unravels and Olin jumps from a bridge and drowns. I believe it happened, that last part, but I have to swallow hard. Until the fatal jump, Olin had given a reasonably good imitation of a not-too-bright psychopath who found himself in an unpleasant bind and decided to kill his way out. Sufficient guilt to prompt that leap wasn't part of the clinical picture. If the police hadn't recovered the body, it would be easy to believe the suicide was as phony as the original crime and that Olin was sunning himself on some beach in Boca Raton.
Margaret Colin, a likable actress, is miscast as the necessary skeptical reporter who refuses to believe a black man did it, and that Olin himself was responsible. But she's only there because the drama requires something resembling a hero. Nobody else does.
It's hard to judge Olin's performance. I suppose he's a nice-looking guy and his voice rarely rises above a reassuring and ordinary tone. It's a nice fit between actor and role, but it's hard to tell whether Olin the actor has more notes on his instrument because he's such a convincing douche bag. It would be an interesting test to see him cast as Blackbeard the Pirate or a raving lunatic.