A Movie A Day #73: Bitter Harvest (1993, directed by Duane Clark)


Travis Graham (Stephen Baldwin, before he found God) is a doofus who owns a farm.  His late father sent all of the family’s money to a crooked televangelist but he did leave Travis a valuable coin collection.  But then two blondes enter his life.  Kelly Ann (Jennifer Rubin) is a penniless hitchhiker who needs a place to stay and a bed to sleep in.  Jolene (Patsy Kensit) is a British realtor who says she wants to help Travis sell his farm.  Faster than you can say “I don’t know the exact pronunciation but I believe it’s ménage à trois,” that’s exactly what happens.  Travis can’t believe his luck but it turns out that Kelly Ann and Jolene have plans of their own.  Then, in a strangely unrelated subplot, a banker robber who shot the local sheriff (M. Emmett Walsh) shows up at the farm.  Travis kills the bank robber but then Kelly Ann and Jolene start pressuring him to use the robber’s plan to rob a bank himself.

This is one of the many strange movies from the increasingly strange career of Stephen Baldwin.  Now that he’s best known for evangelizing and appearing in celebrity-themed reality shows (including, most infamously, two seasons of The Celebrity Apprentice), it is easy to forget that Stephen Baldwin was once a good character actor who, with the exception of The Usual Suspects, apparently could not pick a good script if his life depended upon it.  His performance as the socially backward Travis is often strange (at times, he seems to be channeling Lenny from Of Mice and Men) but always interesting.  Fans of 90s neo-noir will also be happy to see Delusion’s Jennifer Rubin, playing yet another mysterious and dangerous temptress.  Unfortunately, Bitter Harvest falls apart because of an implausible script and too many loose ends but, until it does, the sultry combination of Jennifer Rubin and Patsky Kensit keeps things watchable.

One final note: The sheriff’s son is played by Adam Baldwin.  Even though the two are not actually related, everyone in the 90s assumed that they were and this makes Bitter Harvest a double Baldwin film.

A Movie A Day #72: Delusion (1991, directed by Carl Colpaert)


George O’Brien (Jim Metzler) is a former executive at a San Diego computer company who is driving across Nevada.  He is heading to Reno, where he plans to set up a company with the embezzled millions that he has hidden in his trunk.  When he spots former Vegas showgirl Patti (Jennifer Rubin) standing on the side of the road, he stops to pick her up.  She explains that her car broke down and she needs a lift.  George is happy to give her a ride.  The only problem is that Patti is traveling with her boyfriend, Chevy (Kyle Secor).  At first, Chevy just seems to be a goofy guy who talks too much.  However, Chevy is actually a hitman, traveling to Vegas to kill a gangster (Jerry Orbach).  After the hit, Chevy abandons George in the desert and steals his car.  Determined to get his money, George pursues Chevy and Patty across the desert.

Starting like a caper film and ending like a spaghetti western, Delusion was one of the best (and most overlooked) of the many low-budget neo-noirs that came out during the first half of the 1990s.  While the underrated Metzler and Secor both give good performances, Delusion is stolen by Jennifer Rubin, who is sexy, funny, and unpredictable as Patti.  The scene where she performs These Boots Are For Walking is one of the best of the 90s.  Whatever happened to her?

And why hasn’t this excellent retro thriller been given a proper release on DVD or Blu-ray?  If any movie is deserves to be rediscovered via a special edition, it’s Delusion.