A Movie A Day #211: Deja Vu (1985, directed by Anthony B. Richmond)

Damn, son.  I’ve seen some bad movies before but Deja Vu is something else altogether.

Around the mid-80s, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus decided to prove that Cannon Films was capable of doing more than making movies about Chuck Norris refighting the war in Vietnam.  Golan and Globus had already made money, now they wanted respect.  Teaming up with respected directors (Robert Altman directed an adaptation of Sam Shepard’s Fool For Love for them) and casting actors who had slightly more range than Chuck Norris or Reb Brown, Cannon tried to go the prestige route.  Some of the Cannon’s quality movies actually were good movies.  The same year that Deja Vu came out, Cannon’s Runaway Train scored several Oscar nominations.  However, Deja Vu is a far more representative example of a Cannon prestige film.  It may have had higher production values than Missing in Action but it was still a Golan/Globus production through and through.

Nigel Terry (best known for playing King Arthur in John Boorman’s Excalibur) plays Michael, a screenwriter who views a documentary about a famous and tragic ballerina and is shocked to discover that she looks just like his actress fiancée.  (Both roles are played by Jaclyn Smith.)  Michael is even more shocked when it turns out that he looks exactly like the ballerina’s husband.  Convinced that his girlfriend is the reincarnation of the ballerina, Michael researches her life and murder.  Meanwhile, his fiancée starts to act strangely.

Deja Vu starts out a merely mediocre, slowly paced and miscast.  (There is no chemistry whatsoever between Nigel Terry and Jaclyn Smith.)  But then Shelley Winters shows up, playing a Russian psychic named Olga Nabokova. As soon as Winters started to deliver her lines in one of the least convincing Russian accents that I have ever heard, Deja Vu made the leap from being merely bad to being a cinematic trainwreck.  While Terry and Smith sleepwalk through their roles, Winters and, later, Claire Bloom (cast as the ballerina’s mother) chew up every piece of scenery that they can get their hands on.  Though the plot may be so predictable that it will cause viewers to have deja vu of their own, it must be said that, eventually, Deja Vu becomes so bad and misjudged that it is impossible to look away.  Golan and Globus may have had Oscars in their eyes when they decided to produce this prestige pic but instead, they won the laughter of anyone who comes across it on TV.


Soapy Noir: A KISS BEFORE DYING (United Artists 1956)

cracked rear viewer

A KISS BEFORE DYING is part soap opera, part film noir, and 100% 50’s kitsch! Based on the best selling debut novel by Ira Levin (who went on to give us ROSEMARY’S BABY and THE STEPFORD WIVES), it’s also the debut of director Gerd Oswald (who went on to give us AGENT FOR HARM and BUNNY O’HARE !).  Lawrence Roman’s screenplay has some suspense, but his characters are all pretty dull and dumb, except for Robert Wagner’s turn as a charmingly sick sociopath.

Wagner is college student Bud Corliss, from the wrong side of the tracks, dating rich but naïve Dorie Kingship (Joanne Woodward) to get his hands on dad’s copper mine loot. And when I say naïve I’m not just whistling Dixie; this girl’s downright dense! Bud, after learning she’s pregnant, decides the best thing to do is not marry her, but bump her off. He whips up some poison…

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Music Video of the Day: Radar Love by Golden Earring (1974, dir. ???)

I’ve done three Golden Earring videos at this point. However, I feel as if I have been talking about Orson Welles films from the 1950s onward as if Citizen Kane doesn’t exist.

If there is one song that people know by Golden Earring, then it’s Radar Love. This thing has been a staple of rock radio for decades. It’s one of those songs you can put on, and people instantly know what kind of station they have come across, as well as the decade the song comes from. It’s so 70s it hurts.

The song has been covered, used in games, on TV, and in movies so many times that there is an entire website devoted to this one song. I can’t say I have ever come across that before.

But we’re here for the video.

First things first, look at Barry Hay. Look at him!

The bolero jacket. The top. The pants. And that hair. The hair!

I’ve only seen him top that look with the one he had in the video for Something Heavy Going Down.

Something Heavy Going Down (1984)

Something Heavy Going Down (1984)

The difference being that the red jumpsuit with the gigantic boombox was done on purpose for the video. By looking at another 70s Golden Earring video, that appears to have been Hay’s standard look back then. It’s glorious.

I like the fake freeze-frame this video opens up with. I have no idea why it’s there, but I think it’s a neat way to start off the video.

I’m assuming that since this appears to have been their musical introduction to the world, they did these closeup shots of the band members in order to visually introduce them to the world.

But why do that if you’re not going to put their names there? That seems a little weird.

Then again, this is something that happens.

Who exactly does he think he’s throwing that guitar to?

This is made even dumber by the fact that they immediately cut to him with the guitar back in his hands.

At least the leap over the drum set is a way of capping off the video.

Overall, I like the video. They didn’t just stick the camera in front of them while they performed on a stage. It’s edited in such a manner that brings you into the performance. They added some creative elements to it. Despite the lack of names under them, I think it was clever to use the instrumental opening portion of the video for that purpose before showing us them in action. I can see this video doing well going around the US and European TV shows that they couldn’t be on in order to stand in for a live performance.

So there it is. I now feel comfortable doing more Golden Earring knowing that I have spotlighted the video for the song that kicked off their career.