Robotic Vengeance: Steel and Lace (1991, directed by Ernest Farino)


On trial for raping concert pianist Gally Morton (Clare Wren), evil businessman Daniel Emerson (Michael Cerveris) gets four of his sleazy buddies to provide a fake alibi for him.  After Emerson is acquitted, Gally goes to the roof of the courthouse and leaps to her death.

Five years later, Daniel and his four friends have made a fortune by illegally foreclosing on people’s houses.  They may think that they’ve gotten away with their crimes but what they don’t know is that Gally’s brother, Albert (Bruce Davison), has been building a robot version of his sister.  Soon, Robot Gally is killing off all of Emerson’s friends while a courtroom sketch artist named Alison (Stacy Haiduk) and a detective named Dunn (David Naughton) attempt to figure out what’s going on.

A mix of The Terminator and I Spit On Your Grave, Steel and Lace is a classic of its kind.  While the deaths are inventive and, considering who Robot Gally is killing, deserved, what really sets the film apart is the strong cast and the inventive direction.  Director Ernest Farino wastes no time getting down to business and he inventively opens the film by cutting back and forth between Emerson assaulting Gally and the jury acquitting him of the crime that we just saw him commit.  Davison is not in the film as much as you might expect but he still makes an impression as the fanatical Albert and Naughton and Haiduk are likable even if their scenes sometimes feel like padding.  Best of all is Clare Wren, an actress who deserved to be a bigger star and who is convincing both as the fragile Gally and as the vengeance-driven robot.  Robot Gally eventually comes to question whether justice is truly be served by all of the killings and Wren sells it.  Also be sure to keep an eye out for David L. Lander, playing the prerequisite eccentric coronor.  (Has there ever been a movie coroner who wasn’t an eccentric?)  Finally, Brian Backer — who will be forever known for playing nice guy Mark Ratner in Fast Times At Ridgemont High — is effectively cast against type as one of Emerson’s stooges.

Steel and Lace is one of the best low-budget films to come out of the early 90s, a deeply satisfying tale of robotics and vengeance.

A Movie A Day #192: Betrayal of the Dove (1993, directed by Strathford Hamilton)


Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

Ellie West (Helen Slater) has a 7 year-old daughter (Heather Lind), a sleazy ex-husband (Alan Thicke), a vampy best friend (Kelly LeBrock), and a pair of inflamed tonsils that need to come out.  When she goes in the hospital for what should be a routine procedure, she nearly dies on the operation table.  Something went wrong with the anaesthesia.  But what, why, and how?  Fortunately, Doctor Jesse Peters (Billy Zane) was there to save Ellie’s life.  Even as Ellie, with the encouragement of her best friend, starts to go out with Jesse, she still suspects that someone is trying to kill both her and her daughter.

While the title may sounds like an early 90s Merchant Ivory production, Betrayal of the Dove is actually just another “erotic” thriller, the type that used to show up exclusively on late night Cinemax.  The only thing that distinguished Betrayal of the Dove was the cast, which mixed B-movie stalwarts like Kelly LeBrock and Billy Zane with actors who usually did not appear in movies like this.  Alan Thicke was surprisingly good as a sleazy, abusive alcoholic and both Stuart Pankin and David L. Lander were cast in serious roles.

Perhaps the most surprising casting was that of veteran television comedian and Mel Brooks regular, Harvey Korman.  In the role of Ellie’s boss, Harvey not only played a serious role here but, at the end of the movie, he also got to save the day.  I’m not sure if Harvey did his own stunt work but if you have ever wanted to see Harvey Korman as an action hero, Betrayal of the Dove is as close as you’re going to get.

Or you could just watch Blazing Saddles again.

 

TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.21 “Miss Twin Peaks” (directed by Tim Hunter)


Twin Peaks

Here we go, with the second to last episode of the season.

“Miss Twin Peaks” starts with Leo (Eric Da Re), chained up as punishment for attacking Windom Earle (Kenneth Welsh – The Day After Tomorrow). While chained, he unlocks the chains for Major Briggs (Don Davis), and sets him free.

“Save Shelly.” he whispers, as Major Briggs rises to his feet and wanders off. Some time later, Windom Earle returns, asking how Briggs escaped. He would normally use the taser user he has on Leo, but has come up with a better idea – a better game – one that involves a bag of something he shakes with a sinister smile. A bag, worse than electricity? Doesn’t seem so bad, so far.

We cut to the Double R Cafe, where Norma presents some pies to Annie (Heather Graham – Horns, The Hangover) and Shelly (Madchen Amick) for the Miss Twin Peaks event. She tells them that she expects to see them in the Winner’s Circle. The pagent would be good for the town, to heal over the loss of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). When asked if the town will honor her on the 20th Anniversary of her Miss Twin Peaks win, Norma laughs it off as bribery, as she’s a judge this year.

ShellyAnnie

At the Great Northern, a barefoot Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn) is sitting by the fire and dressed in red, a very subtle suggestion to her being a new woman. Ben (Richard Beymer) steps into the room with a series of books in each hand. He tells her they are the collected religious works of the world – The Bible, The Koran, The Talmud, The Tao-Te-Ching, among others. He carries these in the hopes that he’ll find the good within himself on reading them, but in explaining this to Audrey, she appears distracted. He notes this to be because of Jack (Billy Zane), who’s flown off to Brazil. She still misses him fondly, and fears she’ll never see him again. Ben promises her she will, but Audrey waves it off.

Changing the subject, Audrey informs her father that there’s a connection between the bank and the Packards, which Ben will look into. Ben asks Audrey if she’s considered joining the Miss Twin Peaks Pageant. Although Audrey scoffs at the idea, Ben explains that they could use the Pageant to voice the town’s concerns over preserving the wildlife and the Horne family plans. She reluctantly agrees to do so.

Meanwhile, Andy (Harry Goaz) is in the precinct, staring at the drawing recreation from the Owl Cave. Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) explains to Truman (Michael Ontkean) that on the night of Josie’s (Joan Chen – Demolition Man) death, he saw BOB (Frank Silva) appear. He theorizes that perhaps Josie’s fear is what attracted BOB, and ultimately caused her death. Listening in via the hidden mic in the room, Windom Earle now has what he needs. If he can reach the Black Lodge and BOB, his vengeance against Dale Cooper will be complete. He celebrates this briefly, and we can see that the bag he had is now empty. As he approaches Leo, he bids him farewell, telling him he liked him, but that he has to pay for letting Briggs free.

leo-line

We follow a line of string that appears to be tied to Leo’s teeth, going up and over him and leading to a box full of tarantulas! Nope! Nope, a million times, Nope. I would have rather Windom Earle just set the cabin on fire and leave Leo inside. Poor Leo. Yeah, he was a douche, but even he didn’t deserve all that, whatever his fate becomes.

A dance rehearsal for the Pageant. Donna and Shelly can’t help but laugh at all of the awkward positions that Tim Pinkle (David L. Lander) has the girls doing, while Nadine (Wendy Robie) and Lucy Moran (Kimmy Robertson) are upset at it all. Tim has a tiny loss of composure when questioned about his methods. Lana (Robyn Lively) appears to be really into it, however, probably under the impression she’s already won. She also happens to be the only dancer in heels, for some reason.

Judges

The judges – Norma, Mayor Dwayne Milford (John Boylan), and Dick Tremayne (Ian Buchanan) are looking on. Norma has to step away to handle some business, which leaves just the right opening for Lana to step in and improve her chances on becoming Miss Twin Peaks She mentions there’s something she’s looking for in the storage room, and asks Dick for some help. He joins her in the storage room with a flashlight. Lana’s communication style is through touch (because let’s face it, it’s easier to convince someone of something if there’s the slightest physical contact involved), and through this, she finds what she’s looking for. She doesn’t even need the flashlight to do so.

In Cooper’s room, Cooper records a message to Diane explaining that they’re working hard on the cave etching, and that Windom Earle is looking for the same source that they are. Should it fall into his hands, the ramifications could be disastrous. On a side note, Cooper praises Annie, who he’s very much warming up to.

Annie appears at Cooper’s door. He lets her in and she states she needs help with the Public Speaking part of the contest. Cooper explains that the Ghostwood Development could cause some problems for the town and the wildlife. In the midst of their conversation, Cooper makes a move.

“I don’t want to talk about trees anymore.” He simply says before kissing her. She leads him to his bed and they have a passionate moment together. I hope he remembered to pause his tape to Diane.

We’re watching a home movie, of Nadine and how she tackled Mike Nelson (Gary Hershberger) in wrestling class and fell in love. She and Nadine are in a room with Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn), Ed (Everett McGill) and Norma. Ed reveals to Nadine that he’s going to get married to Norma. Nadine’s stare is intense, but she smiles through it, holding on to Mike’s hand a little too tightly.

“Really?! Well that’s wonderful Eddie, ‘cause me and Mike are getting married, too!”, she says. You can hear the bones in Mike’s hand crack, and he wails in pain.

Major Briggs stumbles through the forest, finally making it to a road. He arrives just in time for Hawk (Michael Horse) to almost hit him with his Patrol Truck. Hawk gets out and puts Briggs into the truck.

The next scene has Briggs shivering and drinking water. It’s almost the same kind of shiver that Pete had. Cooper inspects Briggs and notes that he’s been shot full of Haloperidol, the same drug that the One Armed Man used to keep MIKE at bay. They try to find out where Windom Earle took Briggs, but they can’t get much from him. Andy comes back into the room, checking on the pictograph. Cooper says that if they aren’t at the right place at the right time, they might be able to find their way into the Black Lodge.

Catherine Martell (Piper Laurie), Pete (Jack Nance), and Andrew (Dan O’Herlihy) are trying to open the little box that was inside of the original black box given to Catherine. After a bit of frustration, Andrew throws the tiny metal box to the ground and shoots it with his revolver. This breaks the mini box open and reveals a key. Catherine puts the key inside a glass cake container, in full sight so that no one will steal it.

Donna comes downstairs in the Hayward house, dressed for the Pageant. She confronts her parents, demanding to know what the deal is between her mom (Mary Jo Deschanel) and Ben Horne. The parents won’t tell her, so she decides to get her answers from Ben.

Back at the precinct, Cooper realizes that one element was misread. He’s able to deduce that the map refers to Jupiter and Saturn coming into conjunction. They also learn that entering the portal requires Fear and/or Love (“Fear and Love open the doors.”, Briggs mumbles). If Windom Earle takes the Queen – in this case, Miss Twin Peaks – to the doorway, he should be able to get it to open. At least, that’s what I made of it. As they discuss this, Andy has a relegation, but is unable to share it, as Andy knocks over the bonsai plant. The plant breaks, and reveals Windom Earle’s bug. Now aware that he’s been listening in the whole time, Cooper, Truman and Andy head over to Miss Twin Peaks Pageant.

Here we are at the Miss Twin Peaks Pageant. The ladies of Twin Peaks are having an opening dance number. The show is underway, and there are a number of things occurring. Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook) notices the Log Lady (Catherine E. Coulson) sitting by the bar, but then also notices her standing about 30 feet near him, by the restroom. When Bobby approaches the log lady by the door, we find it’s actually Window Earle, who bonks him on the head with his log, knocking him out.

MissTwinPeaks

Meanwhile, Lucy is dancing on stage. For someone due to have a baby in less than a year, she handles herself well on stage. Cooper and Truman arrive, and Truman notes that they have deputies surrounding the place. After her number is Lana’s, which is a bellydance that entrances the audience and the male judges. Lana’s gaze is focused primarily on Dick and Dwayne as she dances. Andy arrives on the scene, looking for Cooper to tell him what he was unable to say before.

Audrey gives a short speech on fighting for the environment, before leaving and seeing her dad before heading back out. Backstage, Donna confronts Ben, and asks him for the truth. We all learn that she is in fact Ben Horne’s daughter and Audrey’s half-sister. She runs off in tears before any major explanation can be given.

Annie gives a moving speech, one that catches Dick’s attention. Audrey also has a great speech. Lucy meets with Dick and Andy backstage to inform them that Andy will be the father of her child. Andy is surprised, and Dick is elated. Andy promises to be a great father, but he has to locate Cooper, and he leaves her standing there. It’s a humorous moment in the mix of everything.

The announcement is underway. The winner and the new Miss Twin Peaks is…..Annie Blackburn!! There’s applause from the crowd as Annie accepts her award. Lana peeks out from behind the crowd to stare at Dwayne as if to say “What happened?”.  Dwayne turns to Dick and asks him about the vote. Dick replies that Annie’s speech won him over.

The lights suddenly go out, and then flicker like a strobe. Very similar to Brian DePalma’s Carrie, we have pandemonium as everyone tries to evacuate. Nadine, standing under a ladder, is hit on the head with a sand bag, knocking her unconscious. Cooper catches sight of Windom Earle, but in trying to reach him, Earle sets of a flashbang that disorients Cooper. This gives Earle enough time to capture Annie with some chloroform and get out of the building. When Cooper comes to his senses, he tells Truman, who starts to get a perimeter setup. It’s here that Andy is finally able to reach Cooper and tell him what he found.

Windom-Annie

The puzzle they’ve been studying isn’t a puzzle at all, but a map!

So now, we come to the Season Finale (and ultimately the Series Finale) of Twin Peaks, which Lisa will close out tomorrow. Can Cooper save Annie? Can he catch Windom Earle? Is Nadine okay? What about Lucy and Andy? What about that blooming key? Will Donna confront all of her parents? Will Leo manage to escape the box of tarantulas? Hopefully, all of these will be answered.

This is my final piece on Twin Peaks. I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading about this show as we have writing about it. A lot of work went into this from different sides. This has been an awesome project to be a part of, and I’d like to give a quick thanks to both Lisa and Jeff for having me on board.

Previous Entries in The TSL’s Look At Twin Peaks:

  1. Twin Peaks: In the Beginning by Jedadiah Leland
  2. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.1 — The Pilot (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  3. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.2 — Traces To Nowhere (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Jedadiah Leland
  4. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.3 — Zen, or the Skill To Catch A Killer (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  5. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.4 “Rest in Pain” (dir by Tina Rathbone) by Leonard Wilson
  6. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.5 “The One-Armed Man” (directed by Tim Hunter) by Jedadiah Leland
  7. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.6 “Cooper’s Dreams” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  8. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.7 “Realization Time” (directed by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  9. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.8 “The Last Evening” (directed by Mark Frost) by Leonard Wilson
  10. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.1 “May the Giant Be With You” (dir by David Lynch) by Leonard Wilson
  11. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.2 “Coma” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
  12. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.3 “The Man Behind The Glass” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Jedadiah Leland
  13. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.4 “Laura’s Secret Diary” (dir by Todd Holland) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  14. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.5 “The Orchid’s Curse” (dir by Graeme Clifford) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  15. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.6 “Demons” (dir by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Leonard Wilson
  16. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.7 “Lonely Souls” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
  17. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.8 “Drive With A Dead Girl” (dir by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  18. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.9 “Arbitrary Law” (dir by Tim Hunter) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  19. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.10 “Dispute Between Brothers” (directed by Tina Rathbone) by Jedadiah Leland
  20. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.11 “Masked Ball” (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Leonard Wilson
  21. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.12 “The Black Widow” (directed by Caleb Deschanel) by Leonard Wilson
  22. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.13 “Checkmate” (directed by Todd Holland) by Jedadiah Leland
  23. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.14 “Double Play” (directed by Uli Edel) by Jedadiah Leland
  24. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.15 “Slaves and Masters” (directed by Diane Keaton) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  25. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.16 “The Condemned Woman” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Leonard Wilson
  26. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.17 “Wounds and Scars” (directed by James Foley) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  27. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.18 “On The Wings of Love” (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Jedadiah Leland
  28. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.19 “Variations on Relations” (directed by Jonathan Sanger) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  29. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.20 “The Path to the Black Lodge” (directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal) by Lisa Marie Bowman

TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.17 “Wounds and Scars” (dir by James Foley)


“It was like taking a hike to your favorite spot and finding a hole where the lake used to be.”

— Deputy Hawk (Michael Horse) in Twin Peaks 2.17 “Wounds and Scars”

The year was 1991 and all was not well in the world of Twin Peaks.  While, on the show, Leland Palmer murdered his daughter and Josie Packard died after killing Thomas Eckhardt, there was even more drama occurring behind-the-scenes.

Since the first season, the plan had always been for Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) and Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn) to end up together.  MacLachlan and Fenn had serious chemistry in their scenes together.  As characters, Cooper and Audrey seemed like they belonged together.  Even Cooper’s concerns about the age difference didn’t seem like that much of a problem.  (After all, Audrey may have been a teenager but Sherilyn Fenn was not.)  The show’s audience wanted them to end up together.

However, there was one problem.

Lara Flynn Boyle.

Kyle MacLachlan was dating Lara Flynn Boyle and, according to several people who worked on the show, Fenn and Boyle did not get along.  With Boyle not particularly excited about the prospect of watching her boyfriend play love scenes with her rival, Kyle MacLachlan complained to the show’s producers that Cooper would never get together with Audrey because of their age difference.  As a result, Billy Zane was hastily brought in to replace Cooper as Audrey’s love interest.

Personally, I’m not really sure that Cooper needed a love interest.  During the first season, he was written as being so old-fashioned and upright that he was nearly asexual.  (The only indication that Cooper even had a sex drive came when Laura kissed him in his dream and he smiled.)  In the second season, Cooper became a little more, for lack of a better word, “human.”  But he was still traumatized by the death of Caroline and he put his devotion to the Bureau above all else.  Ideally, Cooper would have spent the entire show as a chaste Galahad.

Obviously, ABC disagreed.  They wanted Cooper to have a girlfriend.  We’ll see how this was handled in today’s episode.

So, without any further ado, let’s look at “Wounds and Scar!”

Following the opening credits, we get an extreme close-up of Harry Truman’s (Michael Ontkean) bloodshot eyes.  He’s drinking at the Bookhouse.  A saxophone wails on the soundtrack.  That’s never a good sign.  He’s having flashbacks to his time with the now dead Josie.  Deputy Hawk (Michael Horse) brings Harry a breakfast from the diner.  Hawk tells Harry that everyone at the station is concerned.

“You and Cooper can handle it,” Harry says, “It’s a pretty simple town.”

Really?  Twin Peaks is a simple town?  What show have you been watching, Harry?

At the Diner, a new character steps through the front doors and — OH MY GOD!  IT’S HEATHER GRAHAM!  She’s playing Annie.  It turns out that she’s Norma’s (Peggy Lipton) sister and she has just left a convent.  Annie is going to be working at the diner.  Heather Graham has really pretty hair.

Meanwhile, Major Briggs (Don S. Davis) is finishing his breakfast when the Log Lady (Catherine Coulson) walks up to him and touches the marks on his neck.

Back at the sheriff’s station, Hawk tells Cooper that Harry is about hit bottom.  Cooper is frustrated with his lack of success in tracking down Windom Earle.  Luckily, Hawk speaks exclusively in wise sayings.  He suggests letting the rain fall where it may.

At the cabin (which, somehow, no one else seems to have stumbled across), Windom (Kenneth Welsh) sniffs the country air and tells his slave, Leo (Eric Da Re), that you can’t understand how wonderful country life is until you’ve lived it.  It plays like a nice little parody of Cooper and Harry’s conversation about whittling in the pilot.

Windom checks the newspaper and gets upset over Cooper’s latest move.  He says that Cooper is playing a stalemate game but he doesn’t know the meaning of stalemate.  Neither do I, to be honest.  I prefer checkers to chess.  Windom then realizes that Cooper must be getting help and he throws a fit because he cannot stand people who don’t play by the rules.  “Many people are going to regret this!”

Meanwhile, at the Great Northern, Audrey is demonstrating a proper runway walk while Dick (Ian Buchanan) hits on the models.  Mr. Pinkle (David L. Lander) — the same guy who sold Bobby and Shelly the porto-patient device that didn’t really work out that well — shows up to tell Dick about the pine weasel.  Mr. Pinkle is carrying a stuffed pine weasel but Dick says that they need a living pine weasel.  Showing a stuffed animal at a benefit for an endangered species?  That would be totally gauche.

Wheeler (Billy Zane) shows up to talk to Audrey about their dinner.  They both try to apologize at the same time.  Wheeler asks her to go on a picnic with him.  And, hey — Billy Zane is cute and all but the Wheeler/Audrey romance feels totally forced.  We all know that Audrey should either be with Cooper or killing ninjas in Hong Kong.  Those are really the only two options.

Harry is still drinking at the Bookhouse.  Cooper approaches and tells him about Josie’s sordid past.  He says that Harry has to understand that Josie was a hardened killer.  Harry yells at Cooper to go.

In her office, Catherine (Piper Laurie) looks over the plans for the Ghostwood Estatea when Jones (Brenda Strong) suddenly steps into the office and says that she’s there to expedite the transfer of Thomas and Josie’s bodies to Hong Kong.  Jones says she has a gift from Thomas, so Catherine promptly pulls a gun.  Calmly, Jones hands over a black box.

At the Hayward house, someone knocks on the door.  Donna answer, only to find a friendly old man who claims to be named Dr. Gerald Craig.  Dr. Craig says that he is an old friend of her father’s and he was just stopping by to see if old Doc Hayward was around and — wait a minute!  That’s not Gerald Craig!  That’s Windom Earle in disguise!

Donna asks Dr. Craig if he’d like to come inside and — DONNA, YOU IDIOT!  DON’T JUST INVITE STRANGE MEN INTO YOUR HOUSE!  In less than a month, a dozen people have died in Twin Peaks and Donna is still letting strange men into her house.  Anyway, Dr. Craig gives Donna a small gift for her dad, makes her promise not to open it, and then leaves.

Meanwhile, Pete Martell (Jack Nance) is studying a dozen or so chess boards.  Cooper comes in and Pete tells him that he’s studied every stalemate game in history but that there’s no way to play chess without losing at least a few pieces.  No matter what happens, Pete says, at least six people are going to die.  Cooper tells Pete to stick with it.

In the lobby, Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) and Andy (Harry Goaz) play chess.  Lucy gets mad because Andy moved his knight “without doing the little hook thing.”  “You don’t have to the little hook thing, that’s optional,” Andy says.  Sound good to me, Andy!  But, no, Pete explains that the hook thing is not optional.

Suddenly, Maj. Briggs and the Log Lady both step into the station.  They’re concerned because both of them have the same three triangle pattern, Briggs on his neck and the Log Lady on the back of her leg.  The Log Lady says that she got her mark when she was seven years old.  She was walking in the woods when she saw a flash of light and heard an owl.  When she returned home, she was told that she had been missing for a day.

Audrey and Wheeler are at their picnic.  Wheeler is singing.  C’mon, Audrey, are you actually falling for this?  Go see Cooper before he meets Annie…

At the Hayward House, Doc Hayward (Warren Frost) returns home with Mrs. Hayward (Mary Jo Deschanel) rolling along beside him.  Donna tells them that Gerald Craig visited.  Doc Hayward says that’s not possible.  Gerald Craig was Doc’s roommmate.  He drowned after a rafting accident.  (So?  Drowning never stopped Andrew Packard.)  Mrs. Hayward calls the contact number that Dr. Craig left and it turns out to be the number of a cemetery.  Doc Hayward unwraps Dr. Craig’s gift and it’s a chess piece!

At the gas station, Ed (Everett McGill) tries to talk to Nadine (Wendy Robie) about breaking up.  Unfortunately, Ed needs a divorce but Nadine still thinks they’re in high school.  Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) is there to try to help her understand what’s happening but he’s not much help.  Nadine is more concerned about the fact that she just now noticed that she’s missing an eye.

Back at the Hayward House, someone else knocks on the door.  This time, Mrs. Hayward answers and it’s Ben Horne (Richard Beymer).  As Donna watches from the stairs, Ben whispers something in her mother’s ear and then kisses her.

At the diner, Peggy encourages Shelly (Madchen Amick) to enter the Miss Twin Peaks pageant.  Meanwhile, Cooper has entered the diner and seen Annie and he’s immediately so overwhelmed by her attraction to him that he actually stammers.  No, Cooper — AUDREY!

Before Cooper can fall any further in love, Hawk enters and tells him that they have a problem at the Bookhouse.  Harry is destroying all of the furniture!  When Cooper shows up, Harry calls him Deputy Dale and yells at him some more.  This is the most emotion we’ve seen from Harry since the series began.

Uh-oh, Harry’s holding a gun and he doesn’t want to give it to Cooper.  However, Harry eventually breaks down, shouts that Josie didn’t have to die, and then falls into Cooper’s arms.  Cooper and Hawk put Harry to bed.  Hawk says that Harry has never been like this before.

At the Great Northern, Mike (Gary Hershberger) and Nadine are getting a room under the name “Mr. and Mrs. Hinkman.”  Seriously, the Great Northern looks way too expensive for just a one night stay.  They should have gone to the motel and gotten an hourly room.  Knowing Mike, they probably would have only needed it for 8 minutes or so.

In the ballroom, Ben Horne is thanking everyone for showing up at this charity fashion show.  This is one of those plotlines that you’d never see today.  Nobody has the guts to make fun of rich (and fake) environmentalists anymore.  It’s a shame.

Anyway, the fashion show starts and there’s Dick describing each outfit.  (I really love Ian Buchanan’s performance in this episode.  He makes Dick into such a likable phony.)  Lucy and Andy are two of the models.  Good for them!

While the model walk the runway, Catherine approaches Ben and tells him that she knows he’s a just faking all of his environmental concern.  Ben says that the experience of being accused of Laura’s murder and his subsequent bout with insanity have truly changed him.

Dick has Mr. Pinkle bring out a living pine weasel.  Pinkle explains that the pine weasel is attracted to certain sells, like very cheap cologne.  Of course, this immediately leads to the pine weasel leaping at Dick and biting down on his nose.  Panic breaks out!  Audrey nearly gets run over but luckily, Wheeler is there to literally sweep her off her feet and kiss her.

Meanwhile, at the Bookhouse, one deputy looks over the sleeping Harry.  Jones sneaks up behind him and quickly knocks him unconscious.  She places a gun on the nightstand beside Harry’s bed.  She then undresses, lets down her hair, and lay down beside him…

End credits.

Overall, this was a pretty good episode except for the fact that we all know that Cooper and Audrey belong together.  While I can understand Audrey’s flirtation with Wheeler, Cooper’s sudden attraction to Annie felt a bit out of character, a case of Twin Peaks trying a bit too hard.

Some would probably argue that the bit with the Pine Weasel was a bit overboard as well but I actually enjoyed that.  Ian Buchanan’s performance saved that bit for me.  Plus, wealthy environmentalists tend to be kind of smug so it’s always fun to see them satirized.

Up until this episode, I’ve had mixed feeling about Windom Earle but his scene with Donna was brilliantly creepy.

Tomorrow, we have “On the Wings of Love.”

Previous Entries in The TSL’s Look At Twin Peaks:

  1. Twin Peaks: In the Beginning by Jedadiah Leland
  2. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.1 — The Pilot (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  3. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.2 — Traces To Nowhere (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Jedadiah Leland
  4. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.3 — Zen, or the Skill To Catch A Killer (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  5. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.4 “Rest in Pain” (dir by Tina Rathbone) by Leonard Wilson
  6. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.5 “The One-Armed Man” (directed by Tim Hunter) by Jedadiah Leland
  7. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.6 “Cooper’s Dreams” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  8. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.7 “Realization Time” (directed by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  9. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.8 “The Last Evening” (directed by Mark Frost) by Leonard Wilson
  10. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.1 “May the Giant Be With You” (dir by David Lynch) by Leonard Wilson
  11. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.2 “Coma” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
  12. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.3 “The Man Behind The Glass” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Jedadiah Leland
  13. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.4 “Laura’s Secret Diary” (dir by Todd Holland) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  14. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.5 “The Orchid’s Curse” (dir by Graeme Clifford) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  15. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.6 “Demons” (dir by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Leonard Wilson
  16. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.7 “Lonely Souls” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
  17. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.8 “Drive With A Dead Girl” (dir by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  18. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.9 “Arbitrary Law” (dir by Tim Hunter) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  19. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.10 “Dispute Between Brothers” (directed by Tina Rathbone) by Jedadiah Leland
  20. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.11 “Masked Ball” (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Leonard Wilson
  21. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.12 “The Black Widow” (directed by Caleb Deschanel) by Leonard Wilson
  22. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.13 “Checkmate” (directed by Todd Holland) by Jedadiah Leland
  23. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.14 “Double Play” (directed by Uli Edel) by Jedadiah Leland
  24. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.15 “Slaves and Masters” (directed by Diane Keaton) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  25. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.16 “The Condemned Woman” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Leonard Wilson

 

Shattered Politics #46: Used Cars (dir by Robert Zemeckis)


Used_Cars_film_poster

“Do you think we like being associated with the President of the United States?  I mean, we run an honest business here!” —

Jeff (Gerrit Graham) in Used Cars (1980)

As a film lover, I’ve sat through so many disappointing commentary tracks that, when I come across one that’s actually fun and informative, it causes me to like the film even more.  One of the best commentary tracks that I’ve ever heard was the one that Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale, and Kurt Russell recorded for the DVD release of the 1980 comedy Used Cars.

The film — which was an early credit for both director Zemeckis and screenwriter Gale — tells the story of two rival used car lots.  The bad guy car lot is owned by Roy L. Fuchs (Jack Warden).  The good guy car lot is owned by Roy’s brother, Luke Fuchs (also played by Jack Warden).  The top salesman at the good guy car lot is Rudy Russo (Kurt Russell).  The film shows what happens when Luke dies and Rudy tries to prevent Roy from taking over the lot.

The commentary track is distinguished by just how much Zemeckis, Gale, and Russell seem to truly enjoy watching and talking about the film.  Kurt Russell, in particular, has an incredibly engaging laugh and his sense of fun is contagious.  However, for me, the most interesting part of the commentary track came when Bob Gale explicitly compared Rudy Russo and Luke’s daughter (played by Deborah Harmon) to Bill and Hillary Clinton and then even starts to do a surprisingly good imitation of Bill’s hoarse Arkansas accent.

What made it interesting was that the comparison was absolutely correct.

Politicians are salesmen.  Much as politicians will say anything to get your vote, the salesmen in Used Cars will say and do anything to get your money.  Politicians sell promises that are too good to be true.  Rudy Russo and Roy L. Fuchs do the same thing, claiming that their used cars are just as good and safe as a car that’s never been owned before.

In fact, one of the major plotlines in Used Cars is that Rudy is plotting to make the move from selling cars to buying votes.  There’s a vacancy in the state senate and Rudy is planning on running for the seat.  All he has to do is come up with the $10,000 necessary to buy the nomination from the local political machine. (I imagine it would be more expensive to buy a nomination today.)  Luke agrees to loan Rudy the money but, before he can, Luke goes on a test drive with a former race car driver.

The driver works for Luke’s evil brother, Roy.  Roy knows that Luke has a heart condition and he specifically sends over that driver to give Luke a fatal heart attack.  Just as Rudy is trying to sell a car to a costumer who is skeptical about whether or not he should pay an extra fifty dollar for something he doesn’t want (“$50.00 never killed anyone!” the customer insists), Luke staggers into the office and dies.

(The shocked customer agrees to pay the extra fifty dollars.  Ever the salesman, Luke grabs the fifty before he dies.)

With Luke dead and his estranged daughter nowhere to be seen, Roy is next-in-line to take over Luke’s car lot.  So, Rudy hides the body and tells everyone that Luke is down in Florida.  Both he and his fellow salesman, the hilariously superstitious Jeff (Gerrit Graham), conspire to make as much money as possible before anyone discovers the truth.

How do they do it?  Illegally, of course!

First off, they break into the broadcast of a football game and do an ad.  Then, they use strippers to attract customers.  And finally, Rudy comes up with his master plan, interrupting a televised address from the President of the United States.

“You can’t fuck with the President!” Jeff says.

“Hey, he fucks with us…” Rudy responds.

Seriously, I love Rudy.

In fact, I really liked Used Cars.  It’s a good combination of broad humor and clever satire and both Kurt Russell and Gerrit Graham give such likable performances that you can ignore the fact that they’re both playing total jerks.  (In fact, I would argue that one reason that we love Rudy is because he’s so honest about being so crooked.)  Not every scene worked perfectly.  The scene where Rudy and Jeff interrupt that football game goes on forever and, after a spokesmodel’s dress is ripped off, becomes so uncomfortable to watch that it actually takes the film a while to recover.  But then, after that, you get the interruption of the President’s speech.  You get Jeff freaking out over whether or not red cars or unlucky.  You get some fun driving school humor.  And, of course, you get a cute dog that can do tricks and helps to sell cars.  The film recovers and, ultimately, Used Cars is a celebration of small businesses everywhere.

And you know what?

I really hope Rudy did make it into the state senate.

We need more Rudy Russos in government.

And we really need more commentary tracks featuring Kurt Russell!