Tuesday, June 30, 2009
TOUGH GUYS DON'T DANCE (1987)
An ex-con wakes from the bender of his life to discover that he may have murdered someone...or several someones.
Freshly sprung from jail Ryan O'Neal is back in Provincetown, barely vertical after a really bad night, piecing together the events of the past few drunked-out weeks with the help of his father (Lawrence Tierney) and a little hair of the dog - a square bottle that is probably whiskey but looks a lot like Manischewitz. There is a seance and a bunch of double-crossing (?) blonde ex-girlfriends, one of whom is now married to church preacher Penn Gillette. Two million dollars and a coke deal gone, of course, awry. A dance party featuring people doing lines off a glass table that is otherwise bare except for a tiny bowl of caviar. COKE AND CAVIAR, now that is how you know it is a wild scene. That and the rather spastic '80s dancing. Small New Wave butch doing the side-to-side elbows boogie in a pink tank top and suspenders, Private Vasquez and I salute you for your brief, lonesome representation of cinematic female masculinity.
When tough guys aren't tearing up the floor (and their nasal membranes), they are boozing in dive bars, getting bad tattoos, and hiding blonde ex-girlfriends' decapitated heads in their marijuana stashes in the woods. They are also possibly getting framed for said murders via car phone, parking illegally around the Cape, getting forced down the breakwater at gunpoint, anthropomorphizing their machetes ("my best friend in Viet Nam"), and hooking up with an Isabella Rossellini consigned, impossibly, to dowdiness by a parade of hideous Forenza sweaters that would make Cosby proud.
Best moment of the movie, and perhaps of all time: With the backing of an Angelo Badalamenti score that would not have been out of place in LOVE STORY, Ryan retreats to the shore to read a letter from Isabella...a letter in which she informs him that her husband is having an affair with his wife, that they should not discuss it, and what hello MURDER??
His response below:
Free writing lesson from Norman Mailer, who adapted the script from his own novel: There is "less plot" involved in writing a screenplay than a novel. Also from Mailer's making-of featurette: Drug deals are more exciting than real estate deals, and this is a thriller movie.
It really should be classified more as a mystery, though, since it a) is wonderfully hard to follow and b) ends with five bodies overboard...but SIX splashes. SEE? MYSTERY.