Tag Archives: John Dehner

Jagged Edge (1985)

jagged edge

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.

Spoiler Alert!!!

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

Rated R

Director: Richard Marquand

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video

Creator (1985)


By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: Cloning his dead wife.

Harry Wolper (Peter O’Toole) is an eccentric college professor obsessed with the idea of cloning his dead wife. With the help of an undergraduate assistant named Boris (Vincent Spano) he sets up a makeshift shed in his backyard and uses the university equipment for his experiments. He employs the services of Meli (Mariel Hemingway) a 19-year-old in desperate need of funds whose egg he uses as part of the cloning process. After a while she starts to fall in love with him and as the fetus of his dead wife takes shape she becomes jealous and feeling that he should be more concerned with the living than the dead.

O’Toole is engaging as ever in the type of role that most suits his talents. Had the film stayed centered on him it would have been a joy to watch, but unfortunately it enters in the generic Spano who looks like he was pulled straight off of the cover of a men’s modeling magazine. I presume this was because the studio felt a movie centered on a man over 50 wouldn’t attract the all-important 16-30 year-old demographic, but despite being an obvious chick-magnet he adds little and there was period in the middle where he isn’t seen for a long time to the point where I forgot about him and didn’t miss him at all.

Hemingway adds quirky energy as the free-spirit and her kooky romance with O’Toole adds genuine spark, but the film regresses by spending too more time focusing on Spano’s relationship with fellow coed Barbara (Virginia Madsen). This romance is very formulaic and makes the film seem like two movies in one while sucking all of its offbeat potential right out. If anything Spano should’ve fallen for his robot that is by far funniest thing in the movie.

Spoiler Alert!

David Ogden Stiers makes for a good antagonist and John Dehner, in his last theatrical film appearance, is solid as O’Toole’s loyal colleague, but the film’s biggest problem is when it shift gears and destroys the whole cloning angle completely. It then centers on a mysterious illness that befalls the Barbara character that like in Love Story never gets explained and comes out of nowhere. She goes into an immediate coma and is put on life support where her parents (Rance Howard, Ellen Geer) agrees much too quickly and without bothering to even get a second opinion to take her off of it and allow her to die. This then forces Spano to talk to her endlessly until just as the she is about to be disconnected she ‘miraculously’ comes back to life, which is too implausible, too contrived and too cute for even the most hopeless of romantics and helps ruin the engaging performances of its two lead stars, which is the only good thing about it.

End of Spoiler Alert!

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: September 20, 1985

Runtime: 1Hour 47Minutes

Rated R

Director: Ivan Passer

Studio: Universal

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video