A Movie A Day #304: Code of Silence (1985, directed by Andrew Davis)

It’s life and death in the Windy City.  It’s got Chuck Norris, Henry Silva, Dens Farina, and a robot, too.  It’s Code of Silence.

Chuck plays Eddie Cusack, a tough Chicago policeman who is abandoned by his fellow officers when he refuses to cover for an alcoholic cop who accidentally gunned down a Hispanic teenager and then tried to place a gun on the body.  This the worst time for Cusack to have no backup because a full-scale gang war has just broken out between the Mafia and the Comachos, a Mexican drug gang led by Luis Comacho (Henry Silva).  When a cowardly mobster goes into hiding, Luis targets his daughter, Diana (Molly Hagan).  Determined to end the drug war and protect Diana, Eddie discovers that he may not be able to rely on his brothers in blue but he can always borrow a crime-fighting robot named PROWLER.

Despite the presence of a crime-fighting robot, Code of Silence is a tough, gritty, and realistic crime story.  Though Chuck only gets to show off his martial arts skills in two scenes (and one of those scenes is just Eddie working out in the gym), Code of Silence is still Norris’s best film and his best performance.  The film draws some interesting comparisons between the police’s code of silence and the Mafia’s omerta and director Andrew Davis shows the same flair for action that he showed in The Fugitive and Above the LawCode of Silence‘s highlight is a fight between Chuck and an assassin that takes place on top of a moving train.  Norris did his own stunts so that really is him trying not to fall off that train.

Davis surrounds Norris with familiar Chicago character actors, all of whom contribute to Code of Silence‘s authenticity and make even the smallest roles memorable.  (Keep an eye out for the great John Mahoney, playing the salesman who first introduces the PROWLER.)  Norris’s partner is played by Dennis Farina, who actually was a Chicago cop at the time of filming.  After Code of Silence, Farina quit the force to pursue acting full time and had a busy career as a character actor, playing cops and mobsters in everything from Manhunter to Get Shorty.  As always, Henry Silva is a great villain but the movie is stolen by Molly Hagan, who is feisty and sympathetic as Diana.  To the film’s credit, it doesn’t try to force Eddie and Diana into any sort of contrived romance.

Unfortunately, none of Chuck Norris’s other films never came close to matching the quality of this one.  Code of Silence is a hint of what could have been.

Hoods vs Huns: ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT (Warner Brothers 1942)

cracked rear viewer

A gang of Runyonesque gamblers led by Humphrey Bogart take on Nazi spies in ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT, Bogie’s follow-up to his breakthrough role as Sam Spade in THE MALTESE FALCON. Here he plays ‘Gloves’ Donovan, surrounded by a top-notch cast of character actors in a grand mixture of suspense and laughs, with both the action and the wisecracks coming fast and furious in that old familiar Warner Brother style. Studio workhorse Vincent Sherman, whose directorial debut THE RETURN OF DOCTOR X also featured Bogart, keeps things moving briskly along and even adds some innovative flourishes that lift the film above its meager budget.

Bogie’s gangster image from all those 1930’s flicks come to a humorous head in the part of ‘Gloves’. He’s a tough guy for sure, but here the toughness is humanized by giving him a warm, loving mother (Jane Darwell ) and a fondness for cheesecake…

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Brian Canini Guides You Through “The Big Year”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Diary comics can be a tricky thing to review simply because they’re at sort of a “middle stage” in their overall development these days — originally designed purely as an eyes-only exercise to keep cartoonists “sharp” either between, or alongside, “real”projects intended for public consumption, at some point a handful of artists, most notably Gabrielle Bell, began to take them and mold them into something like cohesive overall narratives, and in that sense it’s probably fair to say that they just might represent the next logical evolution of autobiographical comics as a whole.

And yet, by and large, more often than not a cartoonist’s raw sketchbook diary pages are usually just posted as premiums for their Patreon subscribers (see Bell again, as well as Tillie Walden, and who-knows-who-else by now) or collected as print-on-demand jobs (see Gabby Schulz’ recent A Process Of Drastically Reducing One’s Expectations). To that end…

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Update On Music Video of the Day Posts (Rock Me Tonite by Billy Squier)

I haven’t been doing good health-wise, and I’m not sure when it’s going to pick up. So, I am going to be in and out for awhile. I just wanted to give people a heads up. I don’t like missing these, but it’s going to happen more frequently. I would provide a timeframe if I had it. It’s all over the place at the moment.

I picked out Rock Me Tonite by Billy Squier because I wanted to talk about the infamous music video that went with it for today. Unfortunately, that isn’t something I can just throw together like this post. There’s interviews–written and oral–, context, my opinion, it’s importance, etc. It’s one of the most significant music videos ever made.

In the meantime, do what Squier would have liked people to do in the first place: Listen to the music absent of the images that the video brings to mind.