TRUST ME, alphabetically: J jettisons joyless junk and jilts the jinxed…..
JADE—–director William Friedkin rewrote the script from Joe Eszterhas to such an extent that the latter sought to have his name removed from the credits (this from the guy who had just written Sliver and Showgirls). Perhaps Friedkin should have gone all the way and added the letter ‘d’ to the title, considering how bad the reviews were and how crippling the box-office results. The ‘erotic thriller’ has D.A. David Caruso investigating a lurid murder that has links to sultry clinical psychologist Linda Fiorentino. Who will do it & how before whodunnit is answered? Few cared by the time minute 95 clicked over. Caruso’s ego & ambition had him jump from TVs NYPD Blue to the big screen. It helped the series, and smashed his career in the smug puss, as this thud and the concurrent flop remake of Kiss Of Death had audiences and critics showing him the door. Superhot Fiorentino weathered the fiasco with aplomb. Costing $50,000,000 (why?), this creaked home with $9,852,000 and hoots of derision. With Chazz Palminteri, Richard Crenna, Michael Biehn, Angie Everhart, Kevin Tighe and Victor Wong. The sex scenes don’t justify the waste of your time.
THE JANUARY MAN—-a big, sad step back for the supremely talented and likable Kevin Kline, who had just come off his Oscar win for the hilarious A Fish Called Wanda. Directed by Pat O’Connor, the tone is all over the map in a D.O.A. comedy-thriller that has Manhattan detective Kline trying to solve serial killings. Flatline take was $4,612,000 but worse were the scathing reviews, including Roger Ebert ( it helped to have him on your side) calling it “one of the worst movies of all time”. It’s not quite that but for sure it’s utterly unfunny, deadly dull and off-putting. From 1989, with Susan Sarandon, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Harvey Keitel, Danny Aiello, Rod Steiger and Alan Rickman. Waste of a lot of talent in 97 minutes better spent matching swabs in a paint store.
JOHNNY COOL—-before Frank Sinatra bounced him from The Rat Pack, professional hanger-on Peter Lawford had a hand in producing this 1963 tomato of a gangster flick. #3 Rat buddy Sammy Davis Jr. contributed a cameo as Associate Rat Henry Silva stars, playing a remorseless one-man vengeance machine on the loose, killing his way through 103 dreary minutes. Directed by William Asher, on a break from his Beach Party fests (he doesn’t dig drama, you’ll notice, if you bother to chisel this from the debris pile). Elizabeth Montgomery draws the female lead. They married on the day this was released, went on to Bewitched immortality. She’s not bad, but it’s such an ugly downer, and Silva is one-note all the way. Notables convinced by Lawford to have walk or die-on’s include Rat packer #5 Joey Bishop, Telly Savalas, Jim Backus, Mort Sahl, Richard Anderson, Marc Lawrence, Brad Dexter, John McGiver, Joseph Calleia, Joan Staley, Elisha Cook, Robert Armstrong, John Dierkes, Hal Baylor and Joe Turkel. Watching the preview (often available on You Tube) is good for laughs. Too bad the movie is so lousy.
JOHNNY HANDSOME—-cruel 1989 crime drama directed by Walter Hill in the same mean mood he must have been in when he did the Bruce Willis beatdown Last Man Standing a few years later. Unpleasant from start to finish, it sees disfigured ‘John Sedley’ (Mickey Rourke, art imitating life) get out of the slam, have his face fixed up, even the score on slimeballs, only to get it worse than before. It cost $20,000,000 to sic on the public, but merely nibbled blood-bait for $7,238,000. With malicious input from Ellen Barkin, Morgan Freeman, Elizabeth McGovern, Forest Whitaker, Lance Henriksen and Scott Wilson. As Hill opined :”… this one has a hard road commercially, and I’d like to see it have a chance to find an audience that will be interested. Some people like the movie and others are really offended by it. That’s fine with me.” 94 minutes of this hurt-for-all makes a good way to ruin an evening.
JOLSON SINGS AGAIN—-this chestnut burlesque on fact met with a slug of success back in 1949, earning three Oscar nominations (Writing, Cinematography and Scoring) and plugging Colombia’s coffers with $5,000,000, the years third biggest hit. As pile-it-on sequel to 1946s smash, the superior The Jolson Story, it reworks half of the earlier film into its plot, a sappy contrivance on how Jolson’s career was reinvigorated by WW2. What a break! Larry Parks once again does his superb cover job, and co-star William Demarest repeats his role as the sympathetic manager. Rather enjoyable many long years ago, as a kid, watching with parents who’d grown up hearing Jolson, getting some vicarious pleasure from their enjoyment of the old tunes. Plus, the original movie was darn good. Seen lately, this one is a weary wade, and Jolson’s ego-travails, let alone those old-time ‘blackface’ numbers, will mean as much to current audiences as a lecture on the Reformation (“Al Who?”). Watch the first one, give this yawner a respectful but sincere pass. Directed by Henry Levin, with Barbara Hale, Ludwig Donath, Bill Goodwin, Myron McCormick and Tamara Shayne. Weirdest scene has Parks, playing Jolson, watching Parks, auditioning as Jolson for the first movie. Sticky sweet and sucky.
JUDGE DREDD—-Stallone takes his feather-light touch to the dystopian future (is there any other kind?) as the dispenser of brisk justice in an urban Mega City wasteland. He clashed with director Danny Cannon on the tone, and the movie sputters, pleasing neither. Sly wanted more humor, Cannon desired more nastiness, ala RoboCop. Critics gunned it down. Stateside it bombed, doing better internationally, with a total loot seizure of $113,500,000, but against a lavished $90,000,000 that was not enough revenge justice served cold. Some impressive set design, but the razzmatazz wear out a welcome quickly, and 96 minutes of it will damage your brain: the bombardment preview alone makes you want to buy a gun just to protect you from the movie.
With Armand Assante, Rob Schneider (go home), Diane Lane (go to my house), Max Von Sydow, Jurgen Prochnow, Joan Chen, Giancarlo Esposito, James Remar, Scott Wilson and Mitch Ryan. Inflicted upon the summer of 1995.
JUNGLE PATROL—-earnest but skimpy $125,000 WW2 flick was a non-event in 1948, and will provide no stampede for best seat in the house today. Directed by Joseph M. Newman, it consumes only 71 minutes, but wouldn’t you rather they were added to your life than subtracted? At a New Guinea jungle airbase, fliers are entertained and entranced by visiting USO gal (Kristine Miller). They should pay more attention to the visiting Japanese. With Arthur Franz (debut), Tommy Noonan, Gene Reynolds, Richard Jaeckel, Harry Lauter and Mickey Knox.
Pretty Kristine Miller never really took off, but her off-screen story is interesting if you invest a few minutes on the Internet. Arthur Franz rode into Hollywood at 28, after WW2 service that included being shot down over Romania and made a POW. He escaped! Right on, Art! His 34-year career went on to tally 151 credits. Co-star Mickey Knox was blacklisted, moved to Europe and made a living by adapting some 150 French and Italian flicks into English. He did the adaptations into English of The Good, The Bad And The Ugly and Once Upon A Time In The West and later wrote a memoir “The Good, the Bad and the Dolce Vita: The Adventures of an Actor in Hollywood, Paris and Rome“, which I’m willing to bet is a lot more interesting than this beater called Jungle Patrol.
JUST TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT—-okay, fine, for starters I don’t want to spend 112 minutes listening to Ali MacGraw and Alan King yell at each other and be profane, self-centered jerks. Directed by Sidney Lumet (everyone blows it from time to time), and written by Jay Presson Allen, the 1980 aggravation test features the last movie role for Myrna Loy, who easily takes all her scenes away from whoever else is in them. With Keenan Wynn, Tony Roberts, Peter Weller, Dina Merrill and Michael Gross. It grossed $2,087,000. Not a lot of fun. Lumet recovered his mojo with three aces in a row: Prince Of The City, Deathtrap and The Verdict.