See You Next Thursday: Bloody Wednesday (1987, directed by Mark G. Gilhuis)

Harry (Raymond Elmendorf) is an auto mechanic with a problem.  He has lost his mind.  When he’s found staring at an engine that he’s taken apart and saying that he can’t put it all back together, he’s fired.  When he shows up in church naked, he’s institutionalized.  When his brother arranges for him to live in an abandoned and condemned Hollywood hotel (because that would be the perfect place for a man with deep mental issues to live), Harry loses it completely.  After playing Russian roulette with a street gang and interacting with a hotel staff that only exists in his mind, Harry goes crazy on one bloody Wednesday.

Bloody Wednesday is a prototypical mediocre white man with a gun movie.  Think of Taxi Driver, The Shining, The Joker, or even The King of Comedy, if all four of those films were terribly written, acted, and directed.  It starts out strong, with Elmendorf doing a convincing job of portraying Harry’s growing psychosis, but goes downhill once Harry moves into the hotel and starts to interact with the people in his head.  When he gets into argument and even fights with them, it doesn’t matter because we know that they don’t really exist outside of Harry’s imagination.  Even worse is the street gang that actually does exist but which decides that they’re going to spare Harry’s life because he challenges them to a game of Russian Roulette.  The gang leader, who looks like he’s trying to be Rambo for Halloween, is impressed by Harry’s self-destructive tendencies.  The film’s final scenes, with Harry going on a shooting rampage, are disturbing not because of anything that’s happened in the film leading up to that moment but instead, because it feels like even more of a reflection of America today than it probably did in 1987.

Interestingly, this film was written by Philip Yordan, who began his career as a writer in 1942, won multiple Oscars, and who was later revealed to have worked as a front for blacklisted screenwriters at the height of the McCarthy era.

One response to “See You Next Thursday: Bloody Wednesday (1987, directed by Mark G. Gilhuis)

  1. Pingback: Lisa’s Week In Review: 10/28/19 — 11/3/19 | Through the Shattered Lens

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