Tequila Sunrise (1988, directed by Robert Towne)

Mac (Mel Gibson) and Nick (Kurt Russell) are old friends who are on opposite sides of the law.  Mac was once a legendary drug dealer though he says that he’s now retired.  Nick is a narcotics detective with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.  Early on, Nick warns Mac that, if he is dealing again, he’s going to have to arrest him.  Mac says that he has no interest in getting back into the business but no one believes him.

Mac is actually more interested in Jo Ann Valleneri, who owns his favorite restaurant.  Since Jo Ann is played by Michelle Pfeiffer, who can blame him?.  After tracks Mac to the restaurant, he becomes attracted to Jo Ann too and again, it’s impossible to blame him.  Soon, Jo Ann and Nick are a couple but is Nick just using her to find out about Mac’s relationship with a mysterious drug lord named Carlos?  And when Mac moves in and starts his own relationship with Jo Ann, does he really love her or is he using her to throw Nick off of his trail?

Tequila Sunrise should be a great film but instead, it’s only a good one.  It has all the elements of greatness — Michelle Pfeiffer at her sultriest, Kurt Russell at his coolest, and Mel Gibson before he lost his mind.  It also has a good supporting cast, including Raul Julia, J.T. Walsh, and Arliss Howard.  Ultimately, it doesn’t really come together because the film’s director and screenwriter, Robert Towne, doesn’t seem to be sure what type of story he wants to tell.  Tequila Sunrise could have either been a great crime thriller or a steamy love story but, by trying to be both, it gets bogged down in its own convoluted plot.  That probably won’t matter to most viewers, though.  Not when Russell, Gibson, and Pfeiffer are all on screen together at the same time.  Tequila Sunrise tries to be many things but it works best as a celebration of movie star charisma.

One final note: The film looks great.  Visually, this is one of the ultimate California films.  Cinematographer Conrad Hall received an Oscar nomination for his work on this film and it was more than deserved.

Music Video of the Day: Livin’ On The Edge by Aerosmith (1993, directed by Marty Callner)

Written during the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Livin’ On The Edge was the first single off of Aerosmith’s 11th studio album, Get A Grip.  It’s still one of their most commercially successful songs to date, spending nine weeks at the number one spot on the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart.

The video features Edward Furlong, living a life almost as dangerous as the life lived by the delinquents in the video for Skid Row’s 18 and Life.  Furlong, fortunately, manages to survive his time living on the edge.  Furlong did this video shortly after starring in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

The video also features Joe Perry playing a guitar solo in front of an incoming train.  This scene was filmed on Lake Britton Bridge in Shasta County, California.  The same bridge also appears in Stand By Me.  If I remember correctly, at the same time that this video came out, there was also a PSA about the dangers of walking on railroad tracks that used to show up on television constantly.  The spot featured two kids walking across a bridge, much like the one featured in this video when a train starts bearing down on them.  At the end of the PSA, one of the kids manages to get off the bridge and then has to watch as the train runs over his slower friend.  Whenever I see this video or hear this song, that’s what I think of.

This video was directed by Marty Callner, who directed the majority of Aerosmith’s videos.