Impact (1990) starring Theresa Russell, Jeff Fahey, & George Dzundza
She’s an undercover cop. Seduced by a fantasy. Trapped in a mystery. Led by a dangerous impulse. It’s easy to lose control. -Taglines for the film
This is a psychological thriller co-written by a woman (Leigh Chapman) and directed by a woman- Sondra Locke (who had a palimony suit against Clint Eastwood while making this film). I learned re: Locke’s and Eastwood’s (turbulent) relationship on a recent ep of the podcast You Must Remember This (hosted by Karina Longworth). Yikes, Eastwood does NOT come out looking good! It was V difficult for Locke (who worked as an actress on Eastwood’s projects) to get funding for this small-budget movie (distributed by Warner Bros). In some ways, it’s ahead of it’s time!
Lottie Mason (Russell) is an undercover cop in the LAPD; she’s tall, blonde, and tough (ONLY trusts in herself). Her boss, Lt. Joe Morgan (Dzundza), has been sexually harassing her; we learn this in an early scene. Her bills are piling up and she is TOO invested in her job. While Lottie is helping an ADA- Stan (Fahey)- set-up a drug buy w/ a witness he needs for a case, they become romantically involved. They have a love scene which is unusual for that era, as it’s mainly re: intense gazes (which build tension).
It’s rare (even today) to see a movie centered on a female cop; it has become common on TV/streaming shows. Impulse is gritty, moody, and Russell is believable as a street-smart/independent-minded woman (w/ a hidden soft side). Lottie’s nights of dealing w/ lowlifes has affected her personal life; her Vice assignments incl. impersonating streetwalkers and junkies. She has mandated therapy sessions w/ Dr. Gardner (Lynn Thigpen), where she admits to having a fantasy of losing control and acting on (darker) impulses. Though some viewers felt it was a BIT slow, I think fans of the noir genre or cop dramas may like it. Both Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert called this “a V good thriller.” You can see it on Freevee.)
Body of Evidence (1992) starring Madonna & Willem Dafoe
An act of love, or an act of murder? -Tagline for the film
An elderly millionaire in Portland is found dead of heart failure handcuffed to his bed; a home video of him and a woman is running in the background. When cocaine is found in his system, and his will leaves $8 million to this woman (his lover)- Rebecca Carlson (Madonna)- police arrest her on suspicion of murder. Her lawyer, Frank Dulaney (Dafoe), succumbs to her charms and they start a (reckless) affair. As new evidence turns up during trial, Frank begins to wonder if he’s defending a murderer. (I saw the R-rated version on Freevee; many yrs. ago, I saw it on cable.)
Frank Dulaney: It’s not a crime to be a great lay!
Robert Garrett: Well, sure. l’d have to have myself indicted.
Body of Evidence is often (negatively) compared to Basic Instinct; shooting began only 2 weeks after that film was released, so the similarities are probably coincidental. However, the huge success of Paul Verhoeven’s film could still have influenced the direction and editing. Madonna met w/ a (real-life) dominatrix, who taught her how to tie someone’s arms behind their back using a belt. Dafoe attended a criminal trial; it was interrupted when several people (incl. the judge and many jurors) recognized him and wanted to talk. This is on Roger Ebert’s 2005 list of his most hated films. If you enjoy comedy podcasts, check out the ep reviewing this movie on How Did This Get Made?
Frank Dulaney: Counsel for the Prosecution has already used this witness to establish the state of mind of the deceased. He opened the can, Your Honor.
Judge Burnham: And I do see worms crawling all around you, Mr. Garrett.
Madonna was the 1st choice to play Rebecca; producer Dino De Laurentiis purchased the script b/c he believed it was the perfect role for her. She has short/platinum hair, V pale (unflattering) makeup, red lipstick, and designer clothes. Madonna personally selected Dafoe as her co-star, BUT they have no romantic chemistry together! As many filmmakers have noted over the yrs, casting is V important. Also, where is the development of the characters!? Frank seems eager (quite early on) to do what Rebecca prefers. In one of the (later) steamy scenes, Dafoe looks hesitant (as if performing a chore). Madonna’s acting coach quit just before production began, claiming that “she thinks she knows everything.” As this movie will show, she is a V limited actress. The dialogue given to her is NO help at all! The movie’s (German) director, Uli Edel, said Madonna refused to be directed in the sex scenes. She insisted on pouring (real/hot) wax on Dafoe’s chest in (perhaps the most controversial) scene- ouch! To y’all younger gen viewers, little of this content will look daring.
I was too young to know better. It was the first time I’d been asked to get naked and it turned out to be completely extraneous and gratuitous. Ugh. It was a terrible film and a terrible performance by me. It was about nothing, and I didn’t need to be doing it. -Julianne Moore
Joe Mantegna (who plays prosecutor Robert Garrett) said filming the courtroom scenes was so tedious that 2 extras (jurors) fell asleep during Dafoe’s closing statement. Mantegna (always reliable) yelled at them to wake them up- LOL! The director doesn’t know how to make the trial visually interesting. The judge has lines which (in retrospect) are sassy/funny. Anne Archer does OK what little she is given. A young Julianne Moore plays Sharon (Frank’s wife); she runs a successful restaurant and is mom to a preteen son (seen in just one scene). Moore (who can tackle any role) later said she regretted taking this on; she was then new to movies. Frank Langella has a small/pivotal role as a man from Rebecca’s past. One of Madonna’s besties (actress Sandra Bernhard) was heard laughing at the premiere, commenting: “This is not a serious movie!”
 It is both as bad as you remember it, but somehow endlessly entertaining.
 The movie goes from the ridiculous to the sublime and every thing else in between, and by the time the movie is over, you feel like you went over Niagara Falls on a surf board.
 The courtroom and crime scenes is just background to what the movie is, Madonna in the bedroom.
 …might have been much more fun had it the slightest sense of humor. Alas, all the laughs here are unintentional, and the straight-faced actors just end up looking foolish. […] For camp-addicts, a hoot; all others beware.
-Excerpts from IMDb reviews