Miami Blues (1990) Poster

(1990)

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This black comedy/quirky crime thriller is one of the most underrated movies of the 1990s.
Infofreak20 September 2003
'Miami Blues' fans nod at each knowingly like they share a secret. For some reason this super cool movie isn't all that well known by most movie buffs, but those that appreciate it see it for the highly original and quirky piece of work that it is. Writer/director George Armitage served his apprenticeship with exploitation king Roger Corman in the early 70s, as did Jonathan Demme who co-produced. If you like Demme's mid-period movies like 'Something Wild' and 'Married To The Mob' you'll love 'Miami Blues'. Armitage even uses Demme's mascot Charles Napier, the craggy faced character actor beloved by Russ Meyer nuts. The movie is based on a book by Charles Willeford which features his regular protagonist Hoke Mosely. Quentin Tarantino is a major Willeford fan, and much of 'Miami Blues' prefigures Tarantino's fresh mix of crime and comedy. Mosely is played by Fred Ward who gives one of his very best performances. Alec Baldwin also lucks out as Junior. You'll rarely see either actor as good as this anywhere else. Both of them are just brilliant in this movie, as is Jennifer Jason Leigh. The three of them together are just a joy to watch. Add to that small supporting roles by Napier, Nora Dunn ('Three Kings') and Shirley Stoler ('The Honeymoon Killers') and it's a film buffs dream. You even get a totally pointless cameo by cult favourite Martine Beswick! I don't know why she's even in the movie, but it's alright by me! I always enjoy watching 'Miami Blues' every time I pull it out of my collection. Lots of old favourites lose their appeal as the years go by, not so this one, which just gets better and better to me. Highly recommended fun!
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One of those obscure classics!
I M D Man!6 October 2000
This is one of those movies that perhaps not a lot of people saw, but for me, it's one of those 'obscure classics'. A little quirky at times, but it just looked like a fun movie to act in, and definitely a fun movie to watch. The cast does a great job, especially Alec Baldwin and Fred Ward. They just really seemed to be enjoy their characters. Jennifer Jason Leigh gives her usual solid performance in yet another offbeat role. Alec Baldwin always seems to give some 'classic scene' deliveries (Glengarry Glen Ross, Malice, The Edge, etc.), and once again here in Miami Blues, he scores some big ones. On the bed, counting the stolen money, doing Al 'Scarface' Pacino. Rhyming while finding the 'very big' gun. The entire dinner scene with Ward's Moseley. Stopping the store burglar with a jar of spaghetti sauce. His 'raid' of the betting room ('remain silent'). -Etc. etc. These are just a few examples of some of his classic scenes or lines. They're usually hysterical!!

Anyway, there is some violence, some 'dark' comedy (e.g. Ravindra!), etc., but overall, I think this movie was very entertaining and a nice offbeat surprise with some great performances and lines. Chalk it up under one of my 'Top Ten Favorites That Not Everybody Saw'.
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8/10
Alec Baldwin walks away with quirky crime picture, having the time of his life
bmacv2 March 2003
Alec Baldwin sports a great haircut in Miami Blues and knows it. He struts and swaggers through the movie like the cock of the walk, having a high old time and giving us one, too. It's an exhilarating, watch-this performance that can't help but call attention to itself but luckily happens to fit the character.

The character isn't so much fun. He's a happy-go-lucky psycho just sprung from prison and landed in Miami, where he brushes off a Hare Krishna acolyte in the airport by breaking his finger (the poor guy dies of shock). At his hotel he orders up a hooker (Jennifer Jason Leigh); they hit it off and pair up, mainly because `Princess Not-So-Bright' has trouble with independent thought. Then Baldwin is off and running through Dade and Broward Counties, stealing wallets and identities, staging impromptu holdups, and running giddily amok.

Tired old cop Fred Ward picks up his scent, and even shares a meal of many brews and Leigh's pork chops with the couple. But Baldwin turns the tables and ambushes Ward in his ratty old residential hotel, putting him in the hospital. The upside is that now Baldwin's got a new identity – Ward's – with a gun and a badge to prove it. Flamboyant and reckless, he continues his felonious spree like an overgrown kid playing cops and robbers. But he can't keep it up forever, not even in the anything-goes milieu of South Beach....

Miami Blues is drawn from a crime novel by Charles Willeford, who wrote (he died before the picture was adapted) in the playful, inventive Elmore Leonard vein. There's not much plot, just enough to hold together the characters, which it's about (and the movie's full of quirky characters, memorably including Shirley Stoller). But, though Ward gets top billing and Leigh flashes her credentials as a graduate of the Meryl Streep Academy of Accents, it's Baldwin's movie. If you're fond of ham, you're in for a feast.
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9/10
Something WAY different
mattymatt3022 April 2004
"Miami Blues' is a pretty unusual film about a charming psychopath played by Alec Baldwin(in what could be his best role yet), who beats up an outsider detective(Fred Ward),steals his badge and dentures, and shacks up with a sweet simpleton hooker(Jennifer Jason Leigh). If this sounds a little odd to you, it is, but a GOOD odd. This film is something really different, and doesn't seem to be that well known by the movie watching public. All the leads are really great, and Baldwin's character of Frederick Frenger is really interesting. He's not pure evil, even though he does kill someone for no apparent reason. It's unclear what motivates him, because he wants to be admired as a hero cop with his 'borrowed' badge, but he is also a thief that has no problem robbing people after he helps them.

This film is a hidden gem. See this movie for Alec Baldwin and the crazy character he plays, because it's a role you won't soon forget!
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9/10
Extremely Entertaining Crime-Comedy
ccthemovieman-124 March 2006
This has a mean edge to it which usually doesn't excite me, but I really like this movie, because the meanness is tempered with comedy. It's pure entertainment, one of the fastest-moving 97 minutes you will find, thanks to a good combination of violence and humor.

The three main characters in here are all low-life scumbags but interesting and definitely fun to watch. Alec Baldwin plays a psycho thug and exhibits a good flair for comedy, which he has pursed several times in movies after this one. He's also a legitimately tough guy, or at least sounds like one. Jennifer Jason Leigh, perhaps the all-time female sleazoid in movies, is a lame-brained prostitute. I was very impressed with her southern accent.

Fred Ward is a strange cop in pursuit, one who has problems with his false teeth! Hey, this IS kind of an odd crime movie.

Despite the above, the violence in here can get rough with a few unpredictable happenings that will get your attention. There's also a good soundtrack, capped off at the end by Norman Greenbaum's classic "Spirit In The Sky."
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10/10
GREAT MODERN DAY FILM NOIRE WITH A COMEDIC TWIST
CPDEXTRADT29 August 2003
This is a great characterization of the novel detective HOKE MOSELEY. False teeth, blind "eye on the street", bust out existence and all. Fred Ward played it to the hilt. J J Leigh is a very underrated talent and played the "PRINCESS-NOT-SO-BRIGHT" role to the bone. Alec Baldwin is great as the pyscopathic, wanna be robin hood stickup man.. This movie is a small movie, but real entertainment..
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For my tastes, a truly superb
goomba826 March 2004
and entertaining movie, though, in NO WAY do I consider this a comedy.

Excellent performances by Baldwin and Ward, but especially Jennifer Jason Leigh. If this had been recognized as a regular 'REAL' motion picture, she might have been nominated for an Oscar. Absolutely one of her best performances.

Kudos all around.

But this ain't no comedy.

And, on a side note, I believe Shirley Stoler was at one time an actress known as Shirley Kirkpatrick.
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10/10
A brilliant movie
inframan6 August 1999
This is one of those buried treasures of filmdom (like Prime Cut) that gets swept aside because it's a "genre" movie. But everything about is first-rate, beginning with the performances of the 3 main leads: Baldwin, Leigh, Ward. None has ever been better, each carves a unique unforgettable performance. The direction by Armitage (whose Grosse Pointe Blank is another great treasure) is outstanding. This movie MOVES, it zips & flips & turns on a dime, it's got the momentum that only really great movies have. The writing is terrific, I read the book before seeing the film & I recommend the book to anyone, it's great, Willeford was another great unsung.This movie has loads of little details that reveal themselves in viewing after viewing & then stay with you...forever! How about the fact that Baldwin's character appropriates the billfold & consequently the identity of a fellow airline passenger & goes around for much of the movie as Herman Gottlieb, Herman Gottlieb??!! Remember him? The famed opera impresario? No? Aw forget it...
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7/10
Flawed Characters, Black Humour & High-Speed Action
seymourblack-130 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Based on the novel of the same name by Charles Willeford, "Miami Blues" is an account of an ex-con's crime spree that includes murder, theft and impersonating a police officer. It's also a thriller that's full of black humour, strong violence and action that's delivered at high speed. The sheer pace of this movie and the quirkiness of its characters are its strongest points and together ensure that it remains gripping from start to finish.

After being released from a California prison, Frederick J Frenger Jr. (Alec Baldwin) flies to Miami airport where he steals a suitcase and gets hassled by a Hare Krishna devotee before casually breaking one of the guy's fingers in retaliation. Unfortunately, his victim dies of shock and this triggers a police investigation.

Frenger, who prefers to be known as Junior, checks into a hotel and orders a hooker. The simple-minded Susie Waggoner (Jennifer Jason Leigh) soon joins him and they quickly begin a romantic relationship. Susie who's working her way through college, wants to settle down to a conventional lifestyle and so when she and Junior set up house together, she happily spends her time cooking for him and keeping the place clean. She's unaware that he's an habitual thief and that during his time in Miami; he's been carrying on business as usual.

Detective Sergeant Hoke Moseley (Fred Ward), the veteran cop who's investigating the killing at the airport, comes to Junior and Susie's place because he says that Junior has been identified as a possible witness. The unkempt detective chats affably to the couple and shares a meal with them during which he consumes numerous cans of beer and clearly becomes convinced that Junior is an ex-con and probably the killer he's pursuing. After finishing his meal and inviting Junior to a line-up at the police station, he leaves.

Incensed by Moseley's visit, Junior goes to the detective's hotel room and brutally attacks the cop before stealing his gun, badge and false teeth. This gives him the opportunity to go on another stealing rampage during which he enjoys posing as a cop and using every advantage it gives him to relieve various people of their money and possessions. The assault on Moseley led to him being hospitalised but after being discharged, this previously laid-back cop becomes extremely determined to hunt Junior down and bring him to justice.

This movie's run-of-the-mill plot is illuminated by its characters and Alec Baldwin gives a particularly energetic performance as the violent sociopath who's also an inveterate thief and a pathological liar. Deception also features strongly in his modus operandi as he arrives in Miami under an assumed identity, indulges in a sham version of suburban life and masquerades as a cop.

Jennifer Jason Leigh makes the naïve Susie a sympathetic character and Fred Ward is great as the sleazy, unshaven and cynical cop who's really struggling to cope but remains good natured despite being humiliated by Junior, ridiculed by his colleagues and having personal problems with his false teeth, alimony and indigestion. These characters' flaws emphasise their humanity and provide an effective counterpoint to the callous ruthlessness of Junior in what ultimately proves to be a very engaging crime thriller.
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10/10
Kicking your way into the American Dream... and the American Dream kicks you out again
SusieWaggonerFrenger31 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I have to agree that this is a very underrated movie. Under the crazy plot, the funny, brutal scenes, there is a sadness underlying it that make it more than the usual thriller. It is witty, deep in their depiction of the characters, specially the ill-fated relationship between the incorrigible, still lovable (damn, he can't help but do what he does) Junior Frenger (Alec Baldwin) and the still more lovable, naive, loving Susie (Jennifer Jason Leigh). There are some subtle moments when George Armitage (who brilliantly adapted the screenplay from the Charles Willeford novel) reaches a climax and then suddenly interrupts it, like when Susie is in awe at the little house she's always dreamed of having, and suddenly Junior claps his hands to bring her back to reality. There are many minor details that those who have read the book will find enjoyable too. Even the graffiti on the wall when Junior mugs some drug dealers with a squirt gun ("please let me get what I want this time") is extremely appropriate, although Junior admittedly doesn't know what he wants. I have watched this movie many times and always find something new and rewarding. Surely a keeper.
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8/10
The three stars are great.
Hey_Sweden15 September 2013
Arresting, oddball and darkly comedic crime fiction from the mind of the late Charles Willeford, written for the screen and directed by George Armitage and co-produced by Jonathan Demme. Some people may find it a little too unpleasant for their tastes, but others will delight in its unpredictability. It's got enough interesting faces in its supporting cast to help it make an enjoyable cult-favourite type of film.

Alec Baldwin plays psychopathic hoodlum "Junior" Frenger, who arrives in Miami intending to "start over", or in his case simply move on to a new assortment of victims. (He begins by messing up a Hare Krishna in an airport.) He hooks up with Susie Waggoner, a sweet, simple minded hooker played by the endearing Jennifer Jason Leigh. A tough homicide detective, Hoke Moseley (Fred Ward, good as always) follows his trail, but gets victimized himself when Junior gets the drop on him, and steals Hokes' gun, badge, and false teeth. Junior then has the time of his life pretending to be a cop, while entering into a domestic situation with Susie.

"Miami Blues" does get fairly violent sometimes, but if this sort of thing doesn't bother you, you can have a good time with this story and these players. It's got a hip soundtrack including a score by Gary Chang (this viewer loves the use of Norman Greenbaums' "Spirit in the Sky"). Among the supporting actors are Nora Dunn of 'Saturday Night Live' & "Three Kings", Demme regular Charles Napier ("The Blues Brothers", "The Silence of the Lambs"), Obba Babatunde, and Jose Perez; cameos range from Martine Beswicke ("Prehistoric Women") to Paul Gleason ("The Breakfast Club") to Shirley Stoler ("The Honeymoon Killers").

Highly recommended to fans of cult cinema.
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9/10
A deliciously quirky and inspired blackly comic crime thriller winner
Woodyanders9 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Cunning, charming and dangerous sociopath criminal Freddy J. Frenger, Jr. (superbly played with riveting wired intensity by Alec Baldwin) gets out of jail and goes to Miami, Florida to embark on a crime spree. Freddy meets and settles down with naive hooker Susie Waggoner (a disarmingly warm and sweet portrayal by Jennifer Jason Leigh). Moreover, Freddy steals the gun, badge and false teeth from weary, hard-luck homicide detective Hoke Moseley (the always excellent Fred Ward in peak scraggly form) and starts posing as a cop so he can more easily break the law. It's up to a disgraced Moseley to find Freddy and bust him before things get too out of hand. Writer/director George Armitage, adapting Charles Willeford's first-rate crime novel, successfully retains the idiosyncratic sensibility and colorfully engaging characters from the book; the result is a lively, engrossing and intoxicating cinematic cocktail of oddball black humor and nasty violence that maintains a constant snappy pace and a blithely amoral tone throughout. The original and unpredictable narrative has a genuine freshness and bristling vitality to it that's a total exciting joy to behold. This film further benefits from uniformly splendid acting from a bang-up cast: Baldwin, Leigh and Ward are all outstanding in the lead roles; they receive fine support from Charles Napier as jolly veteran detective Bill Henderson, Nora Dunn as Moseley's hard-nosed new partner Ellita Sanchez, Obba Babatunde as hip blind informant Blink Willie, Paul Gleason as vicious corrupt vice cop Frank Lackley, Jose Perez as sniveling hotel bellboy pimp Pablo, and Shirley Stoler as gruff jewelry store owner Edie Wulgemuth. Both Tak Fujimoto's vibrant cinematography and Gary Chang's moody score are likewise strong and effective while Norman Greenbaum's groovy religious rock classic "Spirit in the Sky" makes for a perfectly funky theme song. A real offbeat treat.
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6/10
A Random Walk Down Biscayne Blvd.
rmax3048238 January 2005
You know what this reminds me of? Godard's "Breathless," one of the first of the shockingly original Nouvelle Vague flicks of the early 60s. I remember first seeing "Breathless" with some friends in a theater in Ithaca, NY, and emerging arguing about what it meant. I don't mean trying to identify any great load of symbolism or moral lesson it might be towing behind it. I just mean, what happened, and why? As I recall we decided that "Breathless" was an "existential" movie and didn't really need to be specific about what was going on. It was a story about a man making a life choice. You can be or do anything you want, said Sartre, and you can break all the rules -- as long as you're willing to take the consequences.

In "Miami Blues" the Belmondo part is played by Alec Baldwin, a guy fresh out of prison who has chosen a life of wilful disobedience. His girl friend (who really ought not to be in college) is a part-time hooker with aspirations that are utterly bourgeois. Jennifer Jason Lee wants to live with her husband and babies in a house with a white picket fence. Fred Ward, looking grizzled and great, is a homicide detective whom Baldwin clobbers and whose identity he steals.

I don't know why certain things happen. For instance, I have no idea how or why Baldwin manages to dig up Ward's home address, then goes there and beats hell out of him, and winds up stealing his false teeth, handcuffs and other cop accoutrements. What was THAT all about? I'll give one more example. Baldwin is in a convenience store and stumbles on an armed robbery. "I'm the police! Drop that gun and walk out of here!" he shouts -- and threatens the armed robber with a jar of spaghetti sauce.

See, in an existentialist movie like this, the characters don't really need to have motives. They do whatever they feel like doing.

There IS continuity though, even if in its details the movie makes very little sense. The characters are consistent, and there is a rudimentary plot, engaging and amusing without being in any way memorable.

I did enjoy the movie though, even the second time around, or maybe even MORE the second time around, since I'd learned not to expect an abundance of logic in the narrative.

The acting of the three principles is also admirable. Alec Baldwin had just appeared in "The Hunt for Red October," in which he struck me as not much more than a handsome leading man. Here, he's a different character entirely. Watch him as he struts down the street, arms swinging jauntily, grinning through pain, happily throwing off non sequiturs in dramatic situations. ("Do you own a suede coat?" he asks a criminal before murdering him.) Lee is more than childlike. She's positively childish with her overflowing emotions. I loved Fred Ward in this. He's full of quirks and rarely seems to be taking the role seriously. Instead of soaking his precious false teeth in -- what is that stuff, Polydent? -- he soaks them overnight in a glass of left-over booze.

Interesting exercise in style and acting.
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9/10
Nasty and crazily comical
Afracious17 January 2000
Warning: Spoilers
The film features a sociopathic thief named Junior Frenger, played with great relish by Alec Baldwin, who after murdering a guy in San Francisco, travels to Miami to seek some new victims to steal from. On his arrival at Miami airport he steals someone's luggage and breaks the finger of a Krishna guy, which kills him. This Frenger character is rather nasty. He then moves to a hotel room and hires a dozy hooker, Susie (played well by Jennifer Jason Leigh, love the accent), who takes a liking to Frenger, who then moves in with Susie. Soon after a haggard and world-weary cop, Hoke Moseley (great performance from Fred Ward), is on his trail. After meeting Frenger at Susie's apartment, Moseley is then beaten up by Frenger, who then steals his badge, gun and false teeth and goes on the rampage around Miami posing as a cop and stealing and mugging. These scenes are comical. It isn't long before Moseley is out of hospital and back on Frenger's trail again, and towards the end there is a squeamish scene in a pawn shop. The performances are all great and there is also an appearance from the ubiquitous Charles Napier as Moseley's partner. It is a nourishingly nasty but very funny film to watch.
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4/10
Largely Forgettable
SteveResin16 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
A below average crime thriller/comedy hybrid. Alec Baldwin moves to Miami, steals a cop's identity, falls in with a dizzy hooker and spends the rest of the movie committing a few random crimes and trying to evade capture from inept detective Fred Ward. And that's about all that happens, nothing of any real consequence or worth. The gags fall flat, the story goes nowhere and it's instantly forgettable.

Baldwin isn't convincing as the bad boy, Jennifer Jason Leigh is pretty good, and Fred Ward deserved better than this hokum. The biggest problem I had with the film is it was trying to be two things, a comedy and a thriller. Trouble is it wasn't remotely thrilling or funny.
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10/10
Great Fun, very original
obsidian102422 February 2002
This movie is just pure fun. Alec Baldwin can have some of the funniest facial expressions in the world. You see the most of them in this movie. It's humor is very off-beat from regular stuff, and most people either don't get it, or don't like it. Everyone should try to like it though, 'cus it's great! =)
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7/10
Psycho savages city
helpless_dancer12 February 2004
When a simple sorta hooker becomes the lover of an insane loser her life spirals more and more into a pit. Her eyes refuse to open while her boyfriend soothes each bump in the road with another easy lie. Partly comedy, but mostly dramatic look at a man doomed because of absolutely no morals or compassion; he lives only to take and take and take. No award winner but worth seeing.
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8/10
Alec's best
gusdanjaq11 March 2010
Miami blues is a really dark comedy with a lot more to it than whats meets the eye. Alec Baldwin plays a recently released sociopath murderer and thief who manages himself to steel a police badge in Miami. He is joined by a clueless hooker (jennifer Jason)who thinks she has found a decent man to settle down with. Fred Ward plays the officer trying to apprehend Baldwin and get his badge back. Mmiami blues is a great film mostly thanks to the performances by the three main characters. Baldwin does a beautiful job playing this psychopath in a way that you start rooting for him, even though he is murdering, assaulting and steeling from people, you start seeing him as a really sick guy with the mental development of a child. I mean we clearly know his actions are no good at all, but he plays it with a certain quality that even makes you feel sorry for the guy. This ambiguity with which he play the character is what builds the dark humor in this film, because he seems as if he really isn't aware of the possible consequences of his actions. Jennifer Jason beautifully plays the gorgeous and naive prostitute that finds herself falling in love for this criminal. Fred Ward also does a great job playing the cop desperate to recover his badge from Baldwin. This movie greatly shows Baldwin'versatility, and kind of makes me thing of a much lighter version of Henry; Portrait of a serial killer, in the way that both movies deal with leading characters that even thought their morals are highly questionables (they kill and steel just for the kick of it) they are not entirely unlikeable to the audiences witnessing their acts. Great performances, Really Good film.
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10/10
Great adaptation of Charles Willeford novel
lewy-222 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
"Miami Blues" is a great adaption of Charles Willeford's first Hoke Moseley novel. Willeford was well known for pitch black humor and his writing is grim to the nth degree. This isn't a very nice movie and it's easy to see that's turned off a lot of the reviewers here. On the other hand despite the violence it's genuinely quirky and funny. The scene where Fred Ward as homicide detective Hoke Moseley and his cop buddy (Charles Napier!) crack jokes over the body of a murder victim while the victim's friend weeps a few feet away is priceless.

Alec Baldwin does great work as Freddy Frenger, sociopath and ex-con, who immediately after his release from prison goes right back to beating people up and robbing them. Ward may have gotten top billing but Baldwin gets most of the screen time and dominates the movie. He first hires and then moves in with a dumb but innocent prostitute Susie Waggoner played by Jennifer Jason Leigh. Leigh, Baldwin and Ward all do excellent work and the movie looks like it was as much fun to make as it is to watch. Leigh's prostitute is easily the most sympathetic character of the bunch and what happens to her is quite frankly a little heart breaking. She easily deserves better, and given the way the universe works that pretty much guarantees that she's not going to get it.

Speaking of Waggoner and Frenger a lot of the reviewers here are misinterpreting the nature of their relationship. They both really do want that house with the yard and the white picket fence, and they really do love each other. When Leigh's Waggoner, normally an excellent cook, deliberately ruins a vinegar pie she's cooking for desert Frenger forces himself to down every forkful while praising her culinary skills.

Highly recommended.
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Pulpy but quite fun
bob the moo21 December 2003
Fred Frenger Jr is just out of prison when he flies into Miami. When he accidentally kills someone at the airport he becomes hunted by the police - something that his criminal activities can't afford. When Sergeant Moseley gets too close to catching him, Jnr robs him taking his badge, gun and false teeth. Living with his wife (under a lie) Jnr starts to live out the life as a cop AND a criminal while Moseley tries to get him.

I've seen this film a couple of times and still am not 100% sure what it wants to be, a comedy, a violent crime thriller or a mix of both. A mix of both would seem to be the answer but the two don't seem integrated only separate throughout the film. What the film comes across as, is the story of two men, both of whom have their own humorous touches and quirks that make the story work quite well.

The story is quite violent and is best viewed as a crime thriller that happens to have dark humour through it. While the plot seems to lack a real obvious direction it is the characters that take the film along. Frenger is violent and unhinged and played very well by a crazy looking Baldwin. Moseley is a stronger character whom I would have liked to have seen more of in the film - he is cheap, dirty and very interesting. Ward fits him like a glove and plays the character well. The third strong in the bow is rather sympathetic and is well done by Leigh who delivers an interesting character.

Overall this is a strange hybrid but it works well. It has all the traits of a pulp thriller with dark comedy, even if the plot is less substantial than I'd expected it to be. Overall this is an underrated little film that is well worth keeping an eye out for, if only for it's characters and dark humorous violence.
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Some Fine Acting
Lechuguilla9 October 2008
A charming thief named Junior (Alec Baldwin) embarks on a romance with a hooker named Susie (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a young, naive Southern gal, in this offbeat character study by director George Armitage. Junior steals from thieves who are in the process of stealing from others. It's a plot contrivance that strains credibility, since Junior always happens to be at the right place at the right time.

The script's story is weak for other reasons as well. We never learn what motivates Junior. Why does he find it necessary to rob from robbers? With a runtime of just 97 minutes the film could have filled us in a little on some of Junior's back-story. Further, toward the film's end, there is ample opportunity for the cops to zero in on Junior. But they don't. And that makes the film not very true to life. I also question why the lead detective, a rather hapless guy named Hoke Moseley (Fred Ward) feels compelled to have dinner and engage in social chitchat with Susie and Junior.

A couple of plot sequences were hard for me to watch because of the graphic violence. But in general, this film is fairly tame and low-key. Production design is fine, and color cinematography is competent. I liked the music, which included "Spirit In The Sky".

Despite a weak script, "Miami Blues" is worth watching once, mostly for the really fine performances of Alec Baldwin and Jennifer Jason Leigh.
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8/10
An unusual crime comedy
Tweekums4 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Miami Blues is different to most crime comedies I've seen in that it doesn't rely on one liners for its laughs but on situations that are intrinsically funny without being madcap or slapstick. The acting is solid throughout and even though Baldwin's character is clearly a sociopath he isn't totally without charm and seems to genuinely love Susie.

Alec Baldwin plays Frederick J. Frenger Jr an ex con who we first meet as he flies into Miami. We know he isn't nice when he breaks the finger of a Hare Krishna devotee as he leaves the airport, unknown to him this causes the Krisna to go into shock and die. He then goes to a hotel where, being the classy gent he is, he orders a prostitute from the manager.

Susue, the prostitute, played by the always excellent Jennifer Jason Leigh, doesn't appear to be too bright although she claims she is doing it to pay her way though college. They clearly hit it off fairly quickly as not long after meeting they are engaged and Susie has retired from prostitution; Junior however has not retired from his life of crime.

The killing of the Krishna is investigated by a rather unusual homicide detective, he seems a bit of a loner and keeps forgetting to put his false teeth back in. He soon finds Junior but doesn't have the evidence to arrest him so instead stays for dinner and ends up exchanging recipes with Susie.

Junior decides to pay Sgt. Moseley a visit and steals his gun, handcuffs and badge which he then uses to assist him when he takes the ill-gotten money of various criminals. He also takes Moseley's false teeth.

The rest of film follows Sgt. Moseley as he attempts to retrieve his badge and teeth and bring Junior to justice.

Over all this film is definitely worth watching if you have the chance and if you in the unlikely event that don't like it it is only ninety minutes long so you won't have wasted much time.
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3/10
waste of time
lord_terabyte5 May 2008
This is not worth taking the time to see. That's an hour and a half of your life that you'll never get back that could be spent watching a better film. The film starts out rather predictably and seems destined to end with the elsewhere mentioned sociopath growing a conscience and becoming a good guy. Indeed this seems to be where the character development seems headed. Along the way there are some laughs, true. Along the way are some nice shots of the Miami environs, true. But towards the end there is a sudden shift towards gratuitous gore and violence. There is no redemption for any character, no message, nothing to make you walk away thinking about what you've just seen. This movie ends up being nothing but a series of scenes, and when the allotted time is up, the film simply ends.
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Primo pulp fiction
george.schmidt11 April 2003
MIAMI BLUES (1990) ***1/2 Alec Baldwin, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Fred Ward, Charles Napier, Obba Babatunde, Nora Dunn, Paul Gleason. Black comic/crime flick with psychotic ex-con Baldwin (top notch perf) who hustles idealistic hooker Leigh and menacing worldweary detective Ward. Based on Charles Willeford's novel captures the essence of Miami and some terrific performances thanks to able direction by Jonathan Demme conspirator George Armitage.
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