Basic Instinct created one of those periodic conversations on cultural mores. Right-wing commentators were up in arms because there had never been such an expensive, star-laden studio film that was so sexually explicit and perversely violent. Meanwhile, from the Left came protests from various Gay and Lesbian lobbying groups, protesting (rather weakly) that the film’s killer was bisexual. Now, to make this argument you had to ignore the fact that every single character in the movie was either a moron, a scumbag, or both. And, of course, these were largely the same people whose reply to Dan Quayle’s comments on Murphy Brown was, ‘It’s only a TV show, you moron!’
Neither protest, though, kept the film from making blockbuster level bucks. Lead player Sharon Stone was catapulted, after toiling for years in the cinematic trenches, into the upper echelon of film stardom. Ironically, she only got the role after a series of bigger stars turned down the film, due to the level of nudity and sexual simulation required.
The film’s notoriety was largely due to the film’s infamous money shot, when Stone uncrossed her legs and gave the audience incontrovertible evidence that she was a natural blonde. Stone eventually became embarrassed by the level of attention played to her, er, presentation, and pretended that the shot was done without her knowledge. This, however, was clearly untrue. Stone had been making films for far too long not to have figured out what that particular camera placement was intended to capture.
In any case, sleazy Film Noirs flashing plenty of celebrity flesh seemed to be the next hot trend. There was just one problem though. It turned out that Julia Roberts, Michele Pfieffer, Meg Ryan and Jodie Foster didn’t want to gyrate nakedly on a guy and then stab him with an ice pick. Or even just the ‘gyrate nakedly’ part. (This is why even Verhoevan himself, the director of the megahit Basic Instinct, had to cast the little known Elizabeth Berkley in his sexfest Showgirls.) They figured they could make hit movies without such antics. And as Demi Moore has shown since, trying to build a major career by flashing your breasts is a sucker’s game.
This is when little light bulbs must have begun appearing over heads all around Hollywood. Hmm, Madonna’s a big star. She’s hardly shy about sex and nudity. And she really, really wants to be a movie star. She’d be willing to make a movie far kinkier than Basic Instinct! So whip up a derivative, ‘is she or isn’t she a killer’ script. As a hedge against negative reviews (and Madonna’s rather questionable acting skills), throw in some well regarded, classy co-stars: Willem DeFoe, Joe Montange, Anne Archer, etc. Why, it’s practically a license to print money!
And so came another in Hollywood’s endless parade of seemingly ‘Can’t Miss!’ flicks that turned out to be flops. Body of Evidence ended up drawing little more than a tenth of Basic Instinct‘s domestic $118,000,000, much less the more than two hundred million dollars it made overseas. Yet, it certainly seemed at the time to be Madonna’s moment. The week before Body of Evidence came out, her book ‘Sex’ hit the shelves. This literary opus was a fifty dollar ‘art’ book of erotic musings and photos of Madonna and various pals and hanger-ons cavorting in the buff. The poorly constructed volume (literally; it’s spiral binding and steel sheet covers quickly developed a reputation for falling apart) sold out its run almost immediately (I think they printed 50,000 copies).
Then the film was released, and promptly declared ‘dead on arrival.’ Why? Well, first of all, the movie really, really sucked. And while Basic Instinct was hardly a classic, it was actually a fairly well made movie. Second, despite the sales of ‘Sex,’ it seemed that mass audiences were less than interested in seeing Madonna’s naked body (yet again). Let’s say that the entire 50,000 guys who bought her book ran out to the theater the following weekend (and maybe they did, barely). That’s hardly the type of attendance necessary to support an expensive studio production. Third, it seemed that more people were interested in seeing Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas have sex than Madonna (yet again) and Willem Dafoe (Willem Dafoe!). Go figure.
Now on to ourâ€¦oh, wait. Might as well check out the video boxâ€¦oh, yeah. The front of the box tries to make the film look classy (!), with an attempted ‘demure yet sexy’ image of Madonna displayed over ‘box’ photos of Dafoe, Mantegna and Archer. This brings up the essential dichotomy in how they present the movie here. On one hand, they really push how ‘hot’ the movie is, with repeated references to its explicit sexual content. (I ended up with the version containing ‘uncensored,’ extra footage. Gee, what a lucky boy am I. I got the longer version.)
Conversely, it’s obvious that they’re also trying to push the idea that this is a ‘classy’ motion picture. The most obvious example of this is the box’s elegant look, black with understated photo elements. Also, the box makes sure to hype the fact that Archer and Dafoe were Oscar® nominees, even identifying the films for which they were nominated. Were you only to look at the box, you might mistake it for a classic suspense film of the 1940’s or 50’s. Only by reading the text on the box’s back do you get into the film’s randier qualities.
On top of the box’s back is a review blurb, informing us that this is “steamy stuffâ€¦[that] makes Basic Instinct and Fatal Attraction look like ‘Romper Room.'” The author of this quote? The world famous film critic, Bob Healy, of KBIG-FM Radio. (Gee, good thing he wasn’t from AM Radio. That might have undercut his authority.) Then, under some photos, is the film description, written in teeny text. Either they were trying to cram in as much info as possible, or they wanted the description to be hard to read. I’m leaning towards the second explanation, myself.
The description starts out with some borderline accurate assertions. I suppose that Madonna is, pretty much, an ‘international superstar.’ Still, I think you’d have to be pretty generous to agree that Dafoe, Mantegna and Archer constitute ‘an all-star cast.’ Then we get another blurb, this time from the equally famous Jeff Collins of Entertainment Tonight Radio. Then the hard sell of the film’s sexual content begins, as we are informed that this video contains, “â€¦extra footage so erotic your local theatre wouldn’t dare show it!” Actually, I believe the claim would be more realistic if they substituted the word ‘boring’ or ‘stupid’ for the word ‘erotic.’
The second paragraph informs us that, “Madonna ignites the screen.” This, her audience might actually find useful: If it were to burn down completely, they wouldn’t get stuck watching the entire movie. Then we get a rundown on the ‘plot’ (Thumbnail sketch: Madonna sexes an old guy to death – was it murder?). Then we get a sorta positive review from an actual film critic working for a real, recognizable source. And all I have to say is, David Ansen of Newsweek, bad on you, Sir! Bad on you.
The movie opens promisingly (for our purposes, anyway), with the logo of Dino De Laurentiis Communications. As the producer of more Bad Movie than, well, pretty much everyone else put together, this is a promising sign. Then the movie begins. We approach a mansion on a dark and stormy night. (Wow, one second into the flick and the cliches are a’flyin’ already!) The camera pans the mansion, outside and in, as theme music oddly reminiscent of the ‘Scary Mansion’ classic Flowers in the Attic plays along. We eventually approach a closed door, through which loud moans can be heard. An ominous thought rears its head: Could this be a door leading into a movie theater playing this very film?
No. Instead, it leads into a bedroom from which the sounds of enthusiastic sex issue. We pan across some nipple clamps and a video camera, so that we get that this is ‘kinky’ sex. But ho, the director has a sly surprise in store for us. For the moans are coming from a TV set, as an old man watches a tape of himself having sex with Rebecca Carlson (Madonna).
This ‘intriguing’ set-up is followed by a scene of actor Michael Douglas entering the mansion to examine a murder scene. No, wait. I’m sorry, that was Basic Instinct. No, here we see actor Joe Mantegna entering the mansion to examine a murder scene. Mantegna plays District Attorney Robert Garrett here. As he leaves his car, the body of Andrew Marsh, the owner of said mansion, is being trundled to the morgue wagon. The coroner’s initial assessment is that Marsh died of cardiac arrest. Garrett continues on to the house.
Up in Marsh’s room, he finds some cops watching Marsh’s home movies. Here we get some of the film’s lame attempts at ripping off Basic Instinct‘s salty repartee. “Nice quality,” Garrett observes, commenting on the picture. “Nice ass!,” comes the ‘witty’ reply. (Three guesses as to whose ass they’re referring to.) The tape was found in the VCR, so presumably this is the morning following the scene we saw of Marsh watching the tape. D.A. Garrett has been called in because the deceased was found tied up. (Hey, just like inâ€¦well, you know.)
Next we get a little levity (very little) out of Garrett’s ability to identify what nipple clamps are. Hey, do those things work on eyelids?! Pass ’em over! Garrett instructs the forensic photographer to take pictures of the gouge marks on the bed frame. Apparently, none of the homicide cops thought of this, nor the photographer himself. (No wonder they call Garrett in on crime scenes. Everyone else is an idiot.) Garrett believes that these show that Marsh was handcuffed to the bed frame.
The body was found by Marsh’s secretary, Joanne Braslow (Anne Archer). Joanne enters the room and identifies Rebecca from the tape. This is done is an obviously catty tone, so that we ‘get’ that she isn’t Rebecca’s Number One fan. (Braslow is the ‘other female suspect’ here, fulfilling the role played by Jeanne Tripplehorn’s character in, yes, Basic Instinct.) “She killed him,” Braslow states tearfully, then walks from the room. I guess that that’s all the questions they had for her.
Cut to the funeral, held on another dark, cloudy day (I don’t think we’ve seen the sun anytime during the movie). Making an appearance is attorney Frank Dulaney (Willem Dafoe). (Hey, anyone want to bet that Dafoe parent’s didn’t actually name him ‘Willem’?) Dulaney asks another attendee something we can’t hear. The fellow responds by pointing out a woman standing in profile, her face obscured by a headscarf. She begins to leave, and Dulaney runs over to introduce himself. The woman turns, and, to absolutely no one’s surprise, it’s Rebecca.
The tearful (‘Acting!’) Rebecca deduces Dulaney’s identity, as none of Marsh’s friends would speak to her. Rebecca asks Dulaney to represent her, although no charges have yet been made. Rebecca asks him if he believes that she killed Marsh. (And exactly what evidence would he have at this point that would enable him to make that judgement?) Of course, Dulaney is a defense attorney, so her possible guilt isn’t an issue with him.
Still, it matters to her. “I loved Andrew,” she warbles, “Why’s it so hard for everyone to believe?” Um, probably because you’re being played by Madonna, who’s a terrible actress. Dulaney has his own theory. “You know why,” he replies. “You’re young, and beautiful, and you were involved with a wealthy older man.” Hmm, why do I get this feeling that a drunken, crying Anna Nicole Smith is watching this film for the hundredth time somewhere, saying, “That’s right, Sister!”?
“He wasn’t old to me,” Rebecca answers, as violin music lends the scene an elegiac quality. Ah, to never again handcuff Andrew to the bed frame and apply their favorite pair of clamps to his age-spotted nipples. Life is too short! Rebecca next complains about people gossiping about her sex life. “They’ve taken something good between two people in love,” she somewhat unconvincingly observes, “and made it dirty.” And boring!
Cut to Dulaney having dinner with his wife Sharon and young teenaged son in the trendy bistro that Sharon owns (or something). “You believed her?,” she asks, amazed (apparently, his wife is either a film critic or an acting coach). Dulaney admits that it’s so, officially moving the film into the Science Fiction genre. A waitress comes to the table to inform Sharon that another worker won’t be available that evening. That means that Sharon will have to work late ‘again’. She leaves Dulaney and the kid to finish dinner. This, in case you need to be hit over the head with a mallet, is to set up the wife’s not being around when Dulaney inevitably succumbs to Rebecca’s robotic charms later in the movie.
She leaves, and for a ‘comedy relief’ moment, the kid asks, “Can you really screw someone to death?!” (Ha ha, he’s just a kid, but he said ‘screw’ to his father! Komedy is King here in Body of Evidence!) His father, taken aback, replies, “No!” This despite of the fact that people die during sex all the time in real life, so the answer is clearly, ‘yes.’ Anyway, that side splitter behind us, the two men of the family make to head home.
Cut to morning, outside the police precinct house. The building is adorned with an odd statue of a woman clasping a trident and holding her other hand out, as if to help someone. The camera pans around this image, apparently under the impression that this is somehow ‘artistic.’ Inside, Rebecca and Dulaney are being questioned by detectives and DA Garrett. This is obviously meant to remind us of the famous interrogation scene from Basic Instinct, but minus the crotch shot. Rebecca, much to her lawyer’s chagrin, keeps answering questions against his advice. Of course, this is supposed to make us wonder if she’s a naÃ¯ve innocent, or instead a cunning master criminal. Well, I’m sure we’ll find out by the end of the movie.
Garrett springs a toxicology exam on them, indicating that Marsh had cocaine in his system. Rebecca just repeats that they had never used drugs, so the report must be faulty. Garrett also mentions that Marsh had an advanced case of heart disease, of which Rebecca maintains she knew nothing. When Garrett’s questions become increasingly abusive (and silly), Dulaney moves to end the interview. Garrett responds by having Rebecca charged with murder.
Dulaney goes in to complain to Garrett. And for good reason: The charge as stands is absolutely preposterous. Look at all the evidence in the O.J. Simpson trial. He was nailed cold, and still acquitted. Now tell me how Garrett is going to convince twelve jurors, beyond a reasonable doubt yet, that Rebecca intentionally ‘sexed’ an old man to death. (A charge of Murder requires that the element of intent be proved.) How could you possibly prove such a thing? Also, not to be crude, but let’s assume that there will be men on the jury. Chances are that at least one of them’s going to be thinking: “Hey, when I’m an old man, I hope some hot young chick comes and boffs me to death!”
When Dulaney tells him that he doesn’t have Probable Cause, Garrett responds that Marsh left everything in his will to Rebecca, some eight million smackers. Dulaney looks shocked at this. (I’m not surprised: That’s a ‘motive,’ not ‘probable cause.’) Garrett’s case will be that she slipped the guy cocaine and then porked him into oblivion, so that she could inherit his estate. Apparently, he’s unconcerned that, at the moment, he has no evidence that she knew about the will. Or that she slipped him the cocaine. Or any way to prove that she intended to screw him to death. Other than that, though, it’s an airtight case.
Dulaney continues to point out the obvious, speaking the film’s most memorable (and laughable) line, “It’s not a crime to be a great lay!” Which, I believe, was the original wording of that ‘Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful’ TV commercial slogan, before it got watered down. Eventually, however, Dulaney begins acting like Garrett is making some sense.
This is because, for the film to work, the audience has to believe that Rebecca might be convicted of murder. If they don’t, then the whole movie collapses in on its own inanity. Which is exactly what happens. The only plea bargain Garrett will except is manslaughter, seven to twenty. Obviously, that dog won’t hunt, so the stage is set for one of Screendom’s less brilliant courtroom dramas.
Next we get the obligatory ‘reporters chasing the suspect and her lawyer down the courtroom steps’ scene. This isn’t a very big crowd of reporters, given that the story involves a woman charged with murdering an elderly millionaire through excessive sex. I’m pretty sure that in real life, that’d attract more than the ten or twelve reporters and cameramen shown here. Still, it’s always nice to see a crowd making ‘watermelon, watermelon’ noises as the reporters do here. And again, I wonder how much we’re supposed to identify the character Madonna plays here with her real life, as she dodges reporters asking invasive questions about her sex life.
Dulaney drives Rebecca home and they discuss the upcoming trial. Rebecca evinces surprise when informed about the will, and recognizes that it supplies her with a big, fat motive for the crime. Dulaney warns her that Garrett will put her sex life on trial. He notes that the locals are extremely conservative regarding sex.
In another line that sounds like it was written for Madonna instead of ‘Rebecca,’ she responds that they actually aren’t, they’re just hypocrites. Hmm, like a woman who makes herself a star by pushing her sex life into the face of everyone on the planet, and then complains that people are obsessing about her private life? No, that woman would be a force for truth and liberation. Only the people who disagree with her would be hypocrites. Are we all clear on that now?
Anyway, Rebecca defends every kinky thing that she and Andrew did as, “making love.” (Awww!) Then we get into a purportedly ‘erotic’ soliloquy. “Have you ever seen animals make love, Frank?,” she asks, leering at him. “It’s intense. It’s violent. But they never really hurt each other.” “We’re not animals,” he replies, setting up the inevitable, “Yes. We are.” A better objection might be that the idea that animals ‘make love’ is insane, anthropomorphification taken to an absurd degree. Animal rut, they don’t ‘make love.’ (Uh oh, here come the letters from PETA.)
After this ‘hot,’ ‘steamy’ and ‘erotic’ conversation, we cut to Dafoe’s back as he engages in strenuous sex. (Needless to say, this is not a pretty sight.) But, ha, the joke’s on us, for it turns out that he’s screwing his wife, not Rebecca. This goes on for a while, and is fairly explicit, but no more so than your typical Friday night fare on Cinemax. There’s even the inevitable saxophone music playing over the scene. It seems like every cinematic sex scene must by accompanied by either bad sax music or inane, saccharine pop tunes. I think it’s mandated by union rules or something. As the, uh, action ends, however, we get a hint that Dulaney was, er, erotically inspired by Rebecca’s ‘animal’ speech.
The next day at Dulaney’s office, we see him ordering an associate to dig up dirt on Marsh. He’s going to put the victim on trial (Exhibit #1: He slept with Madonna.) He’s informed that Joanne Braslow, Marsh’s assistant, has arrived for her deposition. Garrett’s in attendance, too. Dulaney is startled when Braslow maintains that she had once seen Rebecca snort coke. This contradicts Rebecca’s earlier statement to Garrett. It also makes it more credible that she supplied Marsh with the cocaine that, in conjunction with their strenuous sex, did him in.
Then, in what I can only assume was intended as ‘comic relief,’ Garrett interrupts this shocking statement to offer Dulaney the last doughnut, a glazed deal that the camera zooms in on meaningfully. Meaningful of what, I couldn’t tell you. Maybe the director just liked doughnuts. Or maybe it symbolized the one, last person still remaining in the audience at this point, who would presumably also be looking glazed.
We next see the agitated Dulaney searching for Rebecca at her art gallery. Finding her, Dulaney blows his top over her statement to Garrett that she doesn’t use cocaine. Rebecca maintains her innocence, and suggests that Joanne lied because she also was in love with Marsh. She tells Dulaney that there’s someone she wants him to meet.
He ends up driving her to an apothecary lit in a ridiculously ‘cinematic’ style, with no apparent lighting of its own, just sunlight slanting in through the smoky interior. Inside is Dr. Novaro, a comically quackish looking gent, like a Peter Lorre type character from a Mel Brooks movie. Upon her request, Novaro supplies Rebecca with her ‘medicine.’ This proves to be an aspirin substitute (Hope you got enough for everybody!) that she uses for her cramps. Needless to say, this medicine comes in the form of a white powder. Chagrined at having doubted his client, Dulaney agrees to wait while Rebecca finishes her appointment with Dr. Novaro.
Whereupon she enters a similarly ill lit and smoky room in the rear. The doors to this room are semi-transparent (!), and Dulaney watches as Rebecca strips behind them. This, again, is supposed to be ‘hot.’ And, again, it isn’t. The Flamenco music playing over the scene doesn’t help any either. Taking advantage of a convenient cat, Dulaney strolls over to pick it up, looking through the door as he does. There, we spy the naked Rebecca lying face down on the table, as Novaro sticks a bunch of those skinny acupuncture needles into her back. If the sight of Madonna with needles sticking out of her is erotic, though, she must have been at her all time sexiest when the reviews for this movie came out.
Dulaney drives Rebecca home, one of those only-in-a-movie places that appears to be an ornate floating home docked to a pier. Frankly, if she can afford this place, she probably doesn’t need Marsh’s eight million bucks. She invites him in (Hoo, boy, the sexual tension is thick here. Yeah. Man. Yow–sa.) However, he decides that discretion is the better part of valor. Besides, with an hour and a quarter of running time left, there’s plenty of time for that stuff later.
Cut to the courthouse, where the trial is beginning. The main chamber again is woefully underlit, and looks like a cigar smoker’s convention just left the premises. Oddly, Garrett has no backup lawyers at the prosecution table, but instead shares it with witness Joanne Braslow. We are then introduced to Judge Mable Burnham. As is often the case with Hollywood, she’s an ‘authority figure’ played by a black woman, insurance against anyone complaining about the lack of minorities in the film. (Like they’d be complaining over this junk!) She gives the standard, ‘I won’t let this trial become a circus’ speech (too late!), then the proceedings begin.
Garrett approaches the jury to make his opening statement. This is handy, as they probably can’t see farther than three or four feet through the haze. In a laugh riot line, he informs the jury that they will come to see Rebecca as, “â€¦not only the defendant, but the murder weapon itself!” (See IMMORTAL DIALOG.) Hmm. If Garrett’s theory is that Rebecca bored Marsh to death with her single, unchanging facial expression, he might have a case.
Oddly, Dulaney doesn’t now make a motion to drop the case, due to lack of evidence. This is because if he did, Judge Burnham would have no other choice than to drop it, and the movie would be over. (Hmm, I wonder if the Judge would entertain a motion from the audience?) Instead, he follows Garrett with his own opening statement, where he mentions that the case is ridiculous (true) and should never have been brought to court (yep).
He also reminds the jury that their views of kinky sex are beside the point here. They must remember that Rebecca is on trial for murder, not for her sexual tastes. (Freudian Slip Alert: When I edited this article, I found that I had typed that Rebecca was on trial for ‘movie’, instead of murder.) Of course, jurors have a duty to attend the proceedings no matter how disgusted they are. Unfortunately for the producers, however, movie audiences are under no such constraint.
Then, as Garrett did, Dulaney refers to Rebecca as a “beautiful woman.” Did Madonna write this part of the movie? While Madonna has that sexpot reputation, is she really considered ‘beautiful’? I mean, she’s fairly attractive, but ‘beautiful’ seems a bit much. Also, Dulaney seems determined not to let Garrett have the trial’s best laugh line with that ‘she’s the murder weapon’ crack. “It’s not a crime to be a beautiful woman,” he deadpans, but if it was, at least he’d be sure of his client’s acquittal.
Garrett’s first witness is Dr. McCurdy, the Medical Examiner. (I think. It’s still hard to see through all the smoke.) This worthy informs the jury that the deceased’s body shows little evidence of cocaine use before the incident of his death. The cocaine itself was mixed with water in the victim’s nasal spray. He had a head cold, and McCurdy mentions his belief that it was introduced without the victim’s knowledge.
Dulaney, of course, objects, as this is completely speculative. Which is why a Medical Examiner would never have made the statement to start with. The DA might have asked if the cocaine could have been added without Marsh’s knowledge, and then McCurdy could have answered yes. But you just don’t offer conjecture on the stand like that.
Amazingly, however, Dulaney fails to object (either as an attorney or as a moderately intelligent human being) to the following inane dialog:
Under Garrett’s prompting, McCurdy testifies that the deceased was handcuffed to the bed at the time of his death. However, Dulaney, under cross, immediately gets McCurdy to admit that there’s really no way to know if Marsh was wearing them during his heart attack, or just during the sex that immediately preceded it. (Boy, this guy’s the worst ‘professional’ witness in movie history!)
Then, in spite of the fact that he had the statement struck from the record, he asks McCurdy about his theory that someone secretly doped Marsh’s nasal spray. (I’m pretty sure that once you have something struck from the record, you can’t mention it again.) McCurdy replies that he assumed this because common sense dictates that a man in Marsh’s condition wouldn’t choose to use cocaine. Dulaney pounces: “Did you find any evidence of that [common sense] in the autopsy?”
Dulaney then notes that McCurdy has testified that Marsh liked ‘unpleasant’ activities, which indicates that he didn’t always use common sense. Garrett says, “Your Honor!,” then stops, as if he realized that he really didn’t have anything to object to. In spite of this, Burnham cautions Dulaney about his antics, even though he really hasn’t committed any yet.
Garrett’s next witness is Dr. Paley (a hopefully much embarrassed Jurgen Prochnow, the star of Das Boot). He was the emergency room Admitting Physician one night when Marsh was brought in, about a year before he died. Marsh was suffering from ‘cocaine poisoning.’ “He presented a galaxy of symptoms,” Paley notes, proving that he can speak as hilariously as anyone else in the film. Marsh, it turns out, was particularly vulnerable to toxic effects from cocaine. Paley warned him that if he ever tried cocaine again, it would kill him. Dulaney lamely responds, “No questions for this witness,” when his turn comes.
Joanne Braslow is next up on the stand. She explains that Marsh expressed worries about his relationship with Rebecca, and on the very day he died. Braslow reports he told her, “that if she kept it up, she was going to kill him.” Dulaney takes over for cross, and notes that it seems odd that Marsh would discuss his love life with his secretary. (This from the man who upbraided the Medical Examiner for assuming that Marsh used common sense.) Actually, it doesn’t seem odd to me. Especially a private secretary who worked for him for six years. After all, we’ve seen no sign that Marsh had close friends or family. Who else would he talk to?
Dulaney asks if Marsh also mentioned other private matters to her, like the fact that Rebecca was considering moving to Chicago. Joanne says yes. Dulaney asks her if it’s possible that that is what was causing the strain in the relationship that she mentioned. (Huh? I’m not following this at all.) Garrett jumps up and objects, noting that this calls for ‘rank speculation’ on Joanne’s account. Dulaney replies: “Counsel for the Prosecution has already used this witness to establish the state of mind of the deceased. He opened the can, Your Honor.” This finally gives the Judge a chance to enter her (rather impressive) candidate in the characters’ raging ‘Retarded Dialog’ competition. “And I do see worms crawling all around you, Mr. Garrett.”
The only problem is that we never saw this supposed ‘state of mind’ testimony from Joanne. Perhaps they filmed it, but it didn’t make the final edit. All we saw was Joanne testifying to what Marsh actually told her. In other words, our inability to figure out the film isn’t due solely to the inane script and poor acting, but to careless editing as well. It’s nice when everyone chips in and does their part.
Dulaney then drops one of the film’s ‘bombshells’, which, like most of the ones presented here, proves to be a dud. It turns out that Joanne had a cocaine habit a couple of years prior to this. Dulaney asks her if she’s the one supplied Marsh with the cocaine that almost killed him the year before. When she denies it, he offers Marsh’s admittance form from the hospital into evidence. It shows that Braslow is the one who brought him in. Everyone acts like this proves that Braslow gave him the cocaine, even though I don’t quite get the connection. Anyway, we keep cutting to Garrett making pained expressions, so that we ‘get’ that Dulaney has crippled his star witness.
We cut to a fancy restaurant, where Dulaney and Rebecca are having dinner. An odd shot tracks a birthday cake as it makes it way to another table. Between this and the mysterious ‘doughnut’ shot from earlier in the film, I’m beginning to get the idea that the director has some sort of pastry fetish. Dulaney and Rebecca exchange some typically excruciating ‘characterization’ dialog. Dulaney tells, for instance, of how he wanted to be a hockey player as a kid.
Then it’s Rebecca’s turn. She tells of a neighbor’s yard she used to sneak into to steal strawberries. She would skin her knees climbing their fence and slice up her ‘thighs’ as she climbed over their rose bushes. But the pain only made the strawberries the sweeter. In case you’re a moron (as the film seems to assume), this is a metaphor for her taste for sadomasochistic sex. She then bites into a juicy strawberry she’s been fiddling with, leaving her lips dripping red juice. This, I believe, was meant to be sensuous. But let’s just say that I didn’t have any trouble getting out of my chair when the scene was over.
Dulaney, acting in a fairly creepy fashion, asks Rebecca how she discovered that Andrew shared her “tastes.” She replies that they met at a crowded party, saw each other, and just ‘knew.’ Acting even creepier, he asks her to look around the restaurant and see if anyone there is, uh, the same way. (Is it just me, or is this really, really stupid?) She obviously finds someone, but refuses to tell Dulaney who it is. He asks why not. “Because he doesn’t know it yet,” she replies. Hey, three guesses who it’ll turn out to be.
Dulaney escorts Rebecca back to her absurd floating home. He stares at her goonily. (Not a pretty sight. I mean, we’re talking Willem Dafoe here.) “Yes,” she says, unprompted, “it would be nice.” When he asks what she means, she responds, “You and I, making love.” First he demurs that that’s what he was thinking, then he tries to kiss her. Rebecca, however, holds him back, and tells him to go home. Dafoe, vainly trying to communicate a raging lust barely held in check, turns and walks up the pier to his car.
As he arrives there, however, he looks back to the house. He sees Rebecca walk out onto the upper balcony in a shimmering blue robe. Again, Dafoe strains to look like he’s becoming obsessed with her. It’s not entirely his fault, of course. The reason Madonna never became a film star is because she’s one of those people who projects zero charisma while on screen. Guys being what they are, you can believe that one would consider having sex with her if she were available. However, she just doesn’t have the kind of screen presence required to make us buy into Dulaney’s obsession with her.
Looking again at the house, Dulaney observes that the front door is now open. The billowing curtains part invitingly, likeâ€¦well, never mind. Sorry, it must have been those Georgia O’Keefe paintings I was looking at earlier. Overcome with lust, he runs back down and enters the darkened house. Dulaney silently prowls, reinforcing my conviction that anyone who owns this place doesn’t need to kill anyone for money.
Dulaney finally pauses, and Rebecca suddenly looms out of a darkened niche directly behind him, rather like Michael Meyers (the Halloween one, of course). I wish! She pulls his jacket off, and starts nuzzling his neck. This leads to a sex scene featuring violence, like hair pulling and clothes tearing, that’s supposed to be erotic in effect. However, it’s about as ‘erotic’ as the violence, hair pulling and clothes tearing in a Three Stooges short.
Still, at least it’s as funny as the violence, hair pulling and clothes tearing in a Three Stooges short. Not, of course, as funny as that time when Moe fell into that tub of melted rubber, and Curly and Larry inflated him with helium so that they could cut it off in strips, onlyâ€¦sorry. Sometimes it’s hard not to let the mind wander from the subject at hand.
This is meant, I think, to be similar to the violent, borderline rape sex scene between Michael Douglas and Jeanne Tripplehorn in Basic Instinct. That scene, though, actually generated some heat. This one, longer and more explicit, is just silly and somewhat boring. I have to admit that, dedication to my craft aside, I pretty much just fast forwarded through this scene. It’s not like I’m going to go into my ‘intense detail’ mode with this stuff.
Here are the highlights: Dulaney tears off all of her clothes except for her panties, then follows her upstairs. He finds her in her bedroom, which features silk sheets in place of walls and a roaring fire (when did she get that going?). Frankly, it looks like the kind of place that Cleopatra would live in. The mostly naked Rebecca is lying on her gigantic bed, waiting for him.
She takes control, binding his arms with his belt. Then, in the film’s most infamous scene, she grabs one of the large candles lighting the room and pours the reservoir of molten wax over his torso. She cools the wax by pouring cold champagne on him, and licking it up. This she continues in a downward direction, until she ends up pouring the hot wax directly onto his crotch. (Insert your own ‘dipping his wick’ joke here.) Then, with him presumably now protected with a thick, waxen condom, she mounts him. This is followed by your generic ‘frenetic’ sex. (I mean, how many ways are there to film this?)
Dulaney wakes up safely at home the next day. However, when he climbs out of the shower, he notices burn marks all over his chest (we are spared anything else, thankfully). Sharon enters the room, but he manages to cover up with a towel. Wow. That was a close one. How tense was that, hey? When will the insanity stop?
Back at the courtroom (where neither the lighting or the ventilation problems appear to have been fixed), Garrett is calling Dr. Paley back to the stand. This time, the Judge gets the jump on the weird dialog parade. “You’re still under oath, here,” she warns Paley. “Take it seriously!” (?) Garrett begins his questioning. It turns out that Paley, the doctor who admitted Marsh the night he was suffering from cocaine poisoning, also just happens to be an ex-boyfriend of Rebecca (!!). (Gee, what an amazing, not to mention unbelievable, coincidence.)
This, naturally, results in another (rather mild) outbreak of ‘watermelon, watermelon’ noises from the extras. This allows Burnham the inevitable ‘movie judge’ moment where she threatens to clear the courtroom. I believe that this type of scene is mandated by union rules or something. Anyway, during the course of their dating, Paley mentioned Marsh’s poisoning incident. This subject ‘fascinated’ Rebecca, and she asked him if another exposure to cocaine would kill him. “I told her it was Russian Roulette,” he replies.
Dulaney asks Paley if, in the course of dating Rebecca, they ever had sex. Garrett objects, and they both get called up to the bench. “I’m tired of seeing you this close to me,” she informs Dulaney. This is odd, because this is the first time that we’ve seen Dulaney in front of the bench. But she lets him proceed. Dulaney asks Paley if he remembers trying to force himself onto Rebecca. Garrett objects again, but because he doesn’t state grounds (?!) (how about ‘relevancy’?) he’s overruled. It turns out that Dulaney has lots of witnesses to this act, and can produce them if need be.
Then comes perhaps the movie’s funniest ‘courtroom bombshell’ moment. Raising his voice, Dulaney lays into Paley. “In fact,” he spittles, “didn’t you attempt to blackmail her into seeing you again, by threatening to falsely testify against her?!?” Paley denies this oddly specific charge, whereupon Dulaney offers into evidence a cassette tape from Rebecca’s answering machine. This, of course, contains pretty much what Dulaney indicated. Boy, and you thought Perry Mason and Matlock had some dumb witnesses!
Outside the courtroom, Rebecca tells Dulaney that he was brilliant. Yeah, having your client supply you with explicit evidence that utterly decimates prosecution witnesses is a pretty cunning tactic. What a sly boots he was for coming up with that one!
Next they enter a crowded elevator that goes to the parking levels. Leaning against the back wall, Dulaney is surprised when Rebecca unzips his pants and sticks her hand inside. Blocking the other passengers’ view with his briefcase allows this to continue unobserved. (Frankly, I wish I weren’t observing it, either.) Conventiently, everyone else gets off the elevator, allowing Dulaney and Rebecca to start ‘passionately’ making out.
Arriving at the top floor, Rebecca gets out and walks over to Dulaney’s car. Standing on the hood, she uses her shoe to smash a security light, showering the hood with shards of glass. Dulaney looks on with a ‘wicked’ grin on his face. Rebecca, still standing on the hood, pulls her skirt up. She grabs onto an overhead pipe for support as Frank removes her panties. This ends up with her sitting on his face, grinding his back into the broken glass. As things progress, we see bloodstains welling up on Dulaney’s back. (You wouldn’t think it was doing his paintjob much good either.) Then, yawn, they have sex.
Oh, I’m sorry. This is supposed to be ‘hot.’ I hope I’m getting that across.
Back at the trial (I mean the one in the movie, not the movie itself), Garrett is calling Jeffrey Ralston to the stand. Surprised, Dulaney asks Rebecca if she knows who this is. Rebecca doesn’t answer, but her worried blank stare indicates that there’s trouble ahoy. I think. Of course, it looks much like the blank stare she uses in every other scene too, so it’s hard to be sure.
Since the Prosecution is legally required to inform the Defense of its evidence and list of witnesses (while the reverse isn’t true), Dulaney objects to the sudden appearance of this surprise witness. However, Garrett gets to put Ralston on the stand because it’s a movie, and attorneys in movies always get to call one surprise witness. I think it’s mandated by union rules or something.
To our embarrassment, (and undoubtedly his) Ralston proves to be another step downward in the career of Frank Langella. Langella looked like a probable star in the ’80s, when he starred in the title role of Dracula for director John Boorman. However, he subsequently revealed an uncanny ability to choose really poor movies to star in. He was soon stuck playing parts in bad sex flicks like this and the remake of And God Created Woman. Still, he was pretty great as Skeletor in Masters of the Universe.
Ralston, it turns out, is an old (and older) lover of Rebecca’s. He reveals that she was always trying to raise the ante in their sex life, despite his condition. He has, you see, aâ€¦heart condition! (Cue ‘watermelon, watermelon’ noises from the extras.) However, a successful bypass operation fixed him up, and he was soon hale as could be. At this point, mysteriously, Rebecca left him (bum bum bum!).
He also goes into ‘shocking’ detail about her sexual proclivities, which he feels almost resulted in his death. This causes Dulaney to experience a shock of recognition, and causes us to do that thing where you nod and then wake up when your head starts to fall. These ‘revelations’ bring the usual stage noises from the gallery, and the Judge has the court cleared. Unfortunately, reporters and the people who rented or bought the video get to remain. Ralston also had changed his will to make Rebecca the main beneficiary, just like Marsh. When Ralston is turned over for cross, Dulaney oddly replies, ‘no questions,’ rather than asking for time to confer with his client.
Outside the courtroom, Rebecca tries to ‘explain’ herself to Dulaney. He, however, is rather pissed at her, for having failed to mention Ralston. He’s so embarrassed, in fact, that he decides to stop having sex with her. From now on, she’s purely a client. Madonna pulls out all the stops here to show Rebecca’s tearful vulnerability. And let’s just say I’m not that surprised that this clip wasn’t featured on that year’s Academy Awards broadcast. (However, Madonna did win the prestigious Golden Raspberry for Worst Actress of the Year.)
Dulaney decides that since he won’t be having sex with Rebecca tonight, he’ll go see what his wife is doing. He goes to the restaurant she runs, but finds her standoffish. Well, pissedoffish is more like it. Soon she’s created a ‘scene’ (which is more than the rest of the cast and crew have managed so far) and runs into alley behind the building. Weirdly, as she runs through the kitchen we see that there’s no one working there (?!). Maybe they ran out of money for extras.
Dulaney now proves himself to be a complete and utter jagoff. You’d think he’d fall to his knees and beg forgiveness (I mean, if every man who slept with Madonna got divorced by their wife, well, the mind boggles). Instead, he denies the whole thing. Then he tries to make Sharon the bad guy for ‘doubting’ him. However, she received a call from Rebecca, who was looking for Dulaney. Sharon could ‘tell’ what was going on from her voice. By the time she mentions the burns on the front of him and the cuts on the back of him (she doesn’t even mention the car), it’s a little hard to explain it all away.
Still, though, I guess she shouldn’t be concerned. “I love you,” he tells her. “You’re my wife.” (Good-bye city life.) Wow, that’s got to be a load off her mind. Still, in spite of his tenderly telling her that he doesn’t want to lose her, she kicks him out anyway. Boy, some women, huh? Anyway, I can see why President Clinton suddenly crossed this film off his ‘best of the year’ list.
Proving that he’s not exactly leaping up the self-awareness ladder, Dulaney runs over to Rebecca’s. His intention is to blame her for all of his problems. As weird, vaguely ‘Exorcist’ type music plays on the soundtrack (which, now that I think about, isn’t that inappropriate), he ranks her out and then knocks her down. Lying ‘seductively’ on the floor, Rebecca taunts him. “It gets easier, doesn’t it?” Well, that depends. If she’s talking about watching the film, then the answer is a big, fat ‘no.’
Rebecca disrobes (literally: she was wearing a robe). She then attempts to seduce Dulaney byâ€¦doing stuff. I’m really not going to get into it. Dulaney, of course, can’t resist this display, and soon joins her on the floor. It finally just hit me that a major problem with this picture is that there isn’t a single vaguely likeable character in the whole deal. Frank is a colossal, adulterous jerk. Rebecca is at best a slutty weirdo, at worst a cold blooded killer. Garrett is a doofus who prosecutes people under the most retarded rationales imaginable, and does so poorly. Even the victim was an old pervert. Now, this isn’t necessarily fatal, but for it not to be, the film must be extremely well made. Needless to say, this is not the case here.
As the ‘Exorcist’ music continues, Rebecca reaches under a nearby sofa and produces a pair of handcuffs (?). Dulaney, however, is too fast for her, and this time it’s Rebecca who’s manacled. Rebecca doesn’t like this, and she struggles, but Delaney mounts her from behind. Rebecca bites his arm, and Dulaney retaliates by choking her as he continues his business. Now, sex is an odd thing, and I don’t deny that it’s possible that some people might find this erotic. The problem, though, is that the behavior is so extreme that if you don’t think it’s erotic, you’re likely to find it positively repulsive. And I suspect that there’s a lot more people in the second ground than in the first.
Dulaney is sleeping in his office when he’s awoken by another lawyer, who’s discovered something. Studying the tape of Rebecca and Marsh having sex (purely for professional reasons, of course), he accidentally allowed it to run after the ‘feature’ was over. Thus he discovered a snippet of tape left unerased from a prior taping. We see another woman romping naked for Marsh’s amusement. To our ‘shock,’ (this is another of the film’s ‘who cares?’ plot twists) the woman turns out to be Joanne Braslow. All I can say is that I hope Anne Archer got paid a lot of money for appearing in this movie.
Actually, there is more I can say on the matter. Let’s examine what we are being asked to believe here. Apparently, none of the multitudes of investigators from either the police department or the DA’s office bothered to fast forward past the Rebecca footage in order to see if anything else was on the cassette. This, in an extremely high profile and media scrutinized case that is intrinsically difficult to prosecute in the first place, requiring every conceivable scrap of evidence that they can unearth. This is all extremely silly, and I can’t believe that anyone could possibly buy it.
Back in the courtroom, Dulaney is having Braslow recalled as a witness. He gets her first to admit that Marsh radically reduced her inheritance when he changed his will in Rebecca’s favor. (Why wouldn’t he have brought this up earlier, if only to shake the credibility of a prosecution witness?) Then he mentions the video, and, trapped, she admits that she and Marsh ‘dated.’ Then she crumbles, admitting that she was crushed when Marsh tossed her over for Rebecca. He finally introduces evidence that Joanne had purchased the nasal spray container that later turned up doped, and on the very day Marsh died.
Walking from the courtroom at the end of the day, Rebecca notes that Joanne had tried to tried to frame her, and almost got away with it. Dulaney, though, is puzzled. Why would Joanne charge the cheap bottle of spray, thus creating a paper trail for him to follow? (Actually, how did he come across this bit of info, anyway?) Hmm, I smell a plot point. Well, actually, I smell a lot more than that, but that’s what I smell at the moment.
Dulaney continues, pointing out that it’s still possible that Rebecca did kill Marsh. Rebecca is nonplussed by this suggestion. “If the evidence hasn’t convinced you,” she inquires, “then how the hell is it supposed to convince the jury?” Uh, excuse me. Did I miss something here? What ‘evidence?’ Dulaney perhaps increased the odds of the jury finding reasonable doubt by building a circumstantial case against Joanne. Still, the fact that she bought Marsh the nasal spray hardly proves her guilt. After all, as his secretary she did run his errands for him, and he did have a cold at the time of his death.
Rebecca, however, fears that the jury ‘hates’ her. (Why? I mean, if we were talking about the jury at the Cannes Film Festivalâ€¦) She believes that her only chance is to take the stand herself. Dulaney, of course, resists this idea. (Defense attorneys almost never put their clients on the stand unless it’s absolutely necessary. You never know when they’ll put their foot into it.) Ultimately, though, we know that Rebecca’s going to testify. It’s a movie, and the accused always ends up taking the stand. I think it’s mandated by union rules or something.
The next day, Rebecca is checking her makeup in a courthouse washroom mirror. Then we hear a flush, and out of a stall steps none other than Sharon Dulaney (!!). She steps to the mirror to wash up, and recognizes Rebecca. Somehow, Rebecca recognizes Sharon also. (How? We’ve never even seen Rebecca in Dulaney’s office, where she might have seen a photo.) In a truly odd moment, Rebecca pauses behind Sharon and asks, “Wish me luck?” Instead, Sharon serves her an open hand sandwich, if you know what I mean.
Dulaney calls Rebecca to the stand. As she walks up, we see Sharon enter and sit in the visitors’ gallery. Dulaney asks Rebecca to provide her version of what happened on the night Marsh died. Rebecca replies that she and Marsh had dinner out and returned to his home early. She was going to go home, due to his cold, but he wanted to ‘make love.’ She also testifies that she loved him. Yeah, I can see that this valuable testimony is clinching her acquittal. Good thing she went on the stand.
The handcuffs, we learn, were a valentine’s day present from the ever romantic Marsh. It seemed that business leader Marsh enjoyed the opportunity to let someone else, uh, be in charge for a change. Anyway, he was fine when she left, and she only learned of his death the following day. On cross, Garrett tries to imply that it’s odd that Rebecca would end up dating Marsh, who was a patient of her old beau Dr. Paley. “Portland’s a small city,” Rebecca replies. “I even dated a man who dated a woman you dated.” Wow. And how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck would chuck wood?
Anyway, the point of this scene is that Rebecca is supposedly winning over the jury with her combination of candor and salty wit. Therefore, the script supplies Garrett with doofussy questions to ask, while providing Rebecca with ‘witty’ rejoinders. Of course, we haven’t seen the script, and thus have no way of knowing that her answers are supposed to be clever. Therefore, the director kindly has the spectators chuckle at her alleged quips, so that we at least understand that they’re supposed to be funny.
Anyway, this scene goes on and on and on and on, full of smirking, ‘titillating’ detail. Of course, we’re not titillated, just massively bored. It was at this point that I just wanted to start screaming at the TV set: “GET ON WITH IT!!! GET ON WITH IT!!!! GET ON WITH IT!! FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE, JUST GET ON WITH IT SO THAT WE CAN END THIS DAMN MOVIE!!!!” I mean, I know that there’s only twelve minutes of running time left (I have the tape counter on), but sometimes that seems like forever. And this is definitely one of those times.
Well, of course, all bad things must come to an end. Garrett asks yet another stupid question that allows Rebecca to blow what little is left of his case out of the water. He beats her over the head about Ralston, her first weak- hearted millionaire boyfriend. This causes her to reveal the painful truth: Rebecca left him because she found him in bed with another man, and felt she couldn’t compete.
Garrett points out that Ralston isn’t there to ‘defend’ himself. Rebecca cries out, “Yes, he is!” (!!) Sure enough, Ralston is conveniently just sitting there in the visitor’s gallery. Looking embarrassed, he stands up, shamefully nods his head to confirm Rebecca’s tale, and then shuffles from the courtroom. Of course, his shaking his head hardly constitutes legal confirmation. In real life, Dulaney would definitely call him back to the stand to get this testimony on record. But, of course, this is a movie, and not a very good one at that, so nobody stops him as he leaves.
Hey! I just found out that if I leave my mute button on, the dialog pops up on the screen via close captioning! Sorry. I know that that’s not very interesting, but you have to realize that any diversion from the actual film at this point seems inordinately entertaining.
We see the characters reassemble in the courtroom, waiting for the jury to enter and render their verdict. The door opens and they begin to slowly filter into the Jury Box. At this point, we’re all supposed to be on pins and needles. “Oh, gosh,” we’ll undoubtedly cry, “I wish they’d hurry. This suspense is killing me!” Needless to say, this isn’t what we’re saying at all. Except for the part about the film killing us. In any case, here’s the ‘surprise’ verdict: Rebecca’s acquitted.
Of course, this means that Rebecca’s guilty. I mean, I don’t want to blow it for anyone who hasn’t ‘figured it out’ yet. But Dulaney, having gotten her off (insert your own joke here), now has to discover that she’s actually guilty after all. This will represent the film’s final attempt at a shocking plot twist. Besides, Sharon Stone was the killer in Basic Instinct, soâ€¦
Sure enough, Rebecca turns to Dulaney. “Thanks,” she says. “You almost convinced me.” This is meant to shock both Dulaney and us with the realization that maybe she had murdered Marsh. Well, duh. Oh, and in case we don’t get the ‘implication,’ ‘ominous’ music kicks in over the soundtrack. Garrett, seeing Dulaney’s shocked expression, offers (for the first time in the film) wise council. “Trial’s over, Frank,” he notes. “Walk away.” Yes, please. Then we can all skip the remaining six minutes of the movie.
Sigh. Well, it was a nice idea. That night, sure enough, Dulaney is seen walking towards Rebecca’s place. Apparently growing sloppy now that her ‘master plan’ has been successfully executed, Rebecca has left a door open. This allows Dulaney to enter and hear her arguing with an unseen coconspirator. She’s trying to blow him off, noting that if they’re seen together, he’ll undoubtedly be prosecuted for perjury. In the middle of this speech, however, she turns and is shocked to find Dulaney in her house.
Rebecca’s accomplice appears and proves to be Dr. Paley. (Although it could have been Ralston or even Joanne Braslow with equal plausibility. By which I mean, not much.) Well, duh, again. Like the whole ‘threats saved on the phone machine’ deal wasn’t a wee bit too convenient. Anyhoo, this set-up allows Dulaney to explain the whole plot, like in an old Charlie Chan movie, minus the fact that those were generally entertaining. I could repeat it all, but really, what’s the point.
The gross part is that the whole movie is largely a rip-off of one of the screen’s great courtroom dramas, Witness for the Prosecution. As for Dulaney, he’s less offended that Rebecca’s a murderess than by the fact that she manipulated him. (Remember what I said about unlikable characters?). In any case, the movie needs a ‘resolution’ of some sort, no matter how ridiculous. So Paley suddenly realizes that Rebecca’s blowing him off and attacks her.
Rebecca struggles to get away. Paley struggles to get his hands on her. Dulaney struggles to keep him from doing so. Ultimately, Rebecca and Paley end up fighting over a revolver. Paley ends up with the gun, having knocked Rebecca to the floor. However, in a quick shot sure to outrage fans of real movies, Rebecca pulls down a curtain as she falls. We are then treated to a shot of the curtain ripping off its rings, a shot ripped right out of the ‘Shower Scene’ of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (!!).
Before Paley can shoot, Dulaney jumps him again. They struggle again, shots are fired, and Dulaney finally tosses him over a railing to his death. Then he goes to Rebecca, who has received a minor gunshot wound. Dulaney prepares to take her to a hospital, when we discover that Paley isn’t dead after all. Having crawled to the top of the stairs, he pumps a couple of shots into Rebecca. She takes an overly cinematic swan dive out a window and falls into the waters below. We then get an arty shot of her body rising to the surface. And since her silk PJs are now wet, this also provides us a last look at her nipples. At least we got a chance to say good-bye.
The next shot is the typical ‘the cops are here’ shot, as we watch Paley being bundled into a squad car. Garrett stops to console Dulaney with the thought that justice was done. “You should have won the case,” Dulaney notes. “I did,” Garrett replies, watching Rebecca’s body being carted off (!). Then, in the final seconds of the film, we see Sharon walking down the pier, apparently intent on forgiving our sleazy protagonist to provide a half-assed ‘happy ending.’ Gee, I’m so glad. Anyway, that wraps up all the loose ends. See ya next time, folks.
District Attorney Garrett delivers his opening statement, after which I expected Dulaney to petition for a dismissal on grounds of stupidity:
“Andrew Marsh made what turned out to be a fatal mistake. He fell in love. He fell in love, with a ruthless, calculating woman, who went after an elderly man with a bad heart, and a big bank account. You all can see the defendant, Rebecca Carlson. [Actually, considering the thick fog that shrouds the courtroom, I’m not sure that this is true.] But as this trial proceeds, you will see she’s not only the defendant, she is the murder weapon itself! If I hit you, and you die, I am the cause of your death. But can I be called a weapon? The answer is yes. And what a deadly weapon Rebecca Carlson made of it. [?!] The State will prove that she seduced Andrew Marsh and manipulated his affections, until he rewrote his will, leaving her eight million dollars. But she insisted on increasingly strenuous sex, knowing he had a severe heart condition. And when that didn’t work fast enough for her, she secretly doped him with cocaine. His heart couldn’t take the combination, and she got what she wanted. She is a beautiful woman. But when this trial is over, you will see her no differently than a gun, or a knife, or any other instrument used as a weapon. She’s a killer, and the worst kind. A killer who disguised herself as a loving partner!”
Accused by his wife Sharon of having an affair with Rebecca, Dulaney shows that his years in the courtroom have allowed him to always come up with the exact perfect counter-argument to diffuse any situation:
Sharon: “I thought we were happy. I thought we were a family. I trusted you.”
Dulaney, apologizing: “It has nothing to do with you.”
Review by Ken Begg