By Richard Winters
My Rating: 6 out of 10
4-Word Review: An old Corona typewriter.
Rich socialite Paige Forrester (Maria Mayenzet) is brutally murdered in her own home the victim of wounds done by the jagged edge of an unusually curved hunting knife. Her husband Jack (Jeff Bridges) claims he was knocked unconscious and didn’t come to until after she was killed and the assailant gone, but when evidence points to his head wound being self-inflicted he gets arrested for the crime. Teddy Barnes (Glenn Close) becomes his reluctant public defender. She is initially not convinced of his innocence, but the more she gets to know him the more she believes it while also allowing herself to become romantically involved with him. As the court case progresses there are many twists and turns including mysterious, anonymous notes typed with the use of an old typewriter and sent to Teddy, which reveal intriguing clues about her client.
The film, written by Joe Eszterhas, has all the trappings of a great court drama. Lots of clues that go either way making the viewer unsure if the defendant is really guilty or not and working very much like real trials do. I felt for the most part the trial procedures were well research and believable including all the meticulous investigating that Barnes does on her own before the trial even begins. The only thing in this area that could’ve been done better was trying to string out the suspense a bit more by prolonging the length of the jury deliberation. In real-life this can go on for several days, even weeks, but this film made it seem like it was only a few short hours.
Close gives an outstanding performance in a part that was originally intended for Jane Fonda. I love the way she can show such a wide range of emotions and the simple, but effective way that her character’s eyes well up with tears as she listens to the testimony of a rape victim is one the ingredients that makes all of her performances impactful and endearing. Veteran actors Robert Loggia, as a gruff, foul-mouthed detective, and John Dehner as a stern, hard-lined judge are also terrific. I also liked the way Teddy’s children are portrayed as being much more savvy to the world and not just there to say cute and precocious things.
The film’s biggest downfall tough is with its twist ending as Teddy ends up finding the typewriter that had written all those mysterious notes inside Jack’s closet and convincing her that he had actually been guilty all along despite getting off as innocent. She then takes the typewriter with her back to her house and then a few hours later Jack breaks into her place and in an effort to ‘silence her’ tries to kill her, which is all quite ridiculous.
For one thing I didn’t understand why Jack would hide the typewriter in a closet that is only a few feet from where he and Teddy slept. The guy lives in a gigantic mansion, so why not place it where it would be hard-to-find and not where she could easily come upon it. Also, he doesn’t need to kill her at all, he simply needs to retrieve the typewriter, which she leaves sitting on the staircase and he walks right past it. Without the typewriter there is no evidence. He takes it back and destroys it and she has nothing on him. Trying to kill her like the character here proceeds to do is the dumbest thing possible because he would be killing her in the exact same manner that he did in his wife, which would immediately make him the prime suspect and quickly arrested. The Jack character had been so smart otherwise that I’m sure he would’ve thought of this, which makes the wrap-up quite weak and unfortunately hurts what is otherwise a slick and entertaining production.
End of Spoiler Alert!!!
My Rating: 6 out of 10
Released: October 4, 1985
Runtime: 1Hour 48Minutes
Director: Richard Marquand
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video