Day: September 5, 2016

Deadly Pursuit – tape 1323

Looks like there were two recordings on this tape before the current one – A brief ITV Drama ident, then some Question of Sport, before it switches to Thames for Deadly Pursuit, a film which I happened to catch on TV a few years ago, in a hotel room, and something about it struck me as being a microcosm of the 80s.

The cast list is good. A rare performance from Sidney Poitier must be a good thing, and he’s got Tom Berenger there to do all the difficult stunts. Plus Kirstie Alley can be great with the right material. With Clancy Brown (Earth 2) and Andrew Robinson (Dirty Harry and Deep Space Nine, not to mention Hellraiser) and this could be good.

The writing credits suggest a lot of rewriting went on. Three writers, all linked by ‘and’ means three different writers, each rewriting the other. But the last one is Dan Petrie Jr who wrote Beverly Hills Cop and The Big Easy, so this could be good.

The director is Roger Spottiswoode, who’s definitely middle-rank, but I’ve enjoyed his stuff before.

It opens with a man driving frantically to a diamond merchant’s in his pyjamas, and clearing the place out. But he’s caught, and detective Sidney Poitier arrives to investigate. The man was forced to steal his own diamonds by someone who has his wife and maid hostage. Poitier goes to the house, the maid is shot dead, and Poitier has to take the diamonds and follow the bad guy (hidden all the time) to a rendezvous. The bad guy gets away, so Poitier monitors all activity to try to track him down.

Sydney Poitier

We watch the still anonymous bad guy travelling towards the Canadian border, avoiding roadblocks, then coming across an unsuspecting fisherman.

The fisherman’s murder points Poitier in the right direction, and he discovers that the murderer has joined a group of fishermen being led through the wilderness by a guide (Kirstie Alley). He approaches Alley’s husband, Tom Berenger, who’s the only other person who can take him up the mountain. Naturally, they don’t get on.

Tom Berenger

Then we meet Alley and her team of ramblers. It’s smart casting to have both Clancy Brown and Andrew Robinson in the group, as one of them is definitely the murderer, but having both of them there gives us some mystery.

Clancy Brown

Also possibly in the frame is Richard Masur, but my money’s on Brown or Robinson.

Richard Masur

After the first hour, the film is interrupted by News at Ten in that annoying way ITV thought was perfectly OK.

The big news in this bulletin is the results of the TV Franchise auctions, which was pretty big news. TV-AM lost theirs, but more shockingly, Thames TV lost their franchise too, replaced by the much reviled (by me, at least) Carlton TV.

Back to the movie, and the journey continues. The party with Alley are played like a less-funny City Slickers group, but there’s a lot of fake-outs with various team members acting suspiciously, asking a lot of questions, and generally throwing suspicion around for the audience, but not for them, as as far as they’re concerned it’s all one happy family.

Until Richard Masur stops on a narrow ledge to tie his shoelace, talking to Clancy Brown, with the rest of the party further on. But Masur slips on his own, and as Brown tries to rescue him, a gun slips from his pack. He can’t let Masur tell the others about this, so as he’s pulling him to safety, he lets him go and drops him down a ravine into a fiver.

The rest of the group come back, and he tells them that Masur fell, but rather than keep the fiction going, he just heaves too more of them over the cliff, knocks Alley to the ground, and faces off with Andrew Robinson at gunpoint. Robinson is forced to jump off the cliff, landing in the river, and Brown takes Alley to the next stop alone. He ties her up, and gets her to call in to their base station (where there’s an FBI agent listening). He gets her to tel;l them she’s alone, so they spill their entire plan to Brown, telling him that Berenger and Poitier are on their way. The idiots.

Andrew Robinson

The weather turns bad, and Berenger and Poitier get very cold. It all gets a bit Brokeback Mountain as Berenger tries to warm up Poitier. Not quite, but close.

This is a curiously plotted film. This whole pursuit is effectively two different stories. After getting buried in snow overnight, Berenger and Poitier make it out, then they’re faced with a bear.

Bear

They run, Berenger falls and hits his head (yes) so Poitier does that thing you’re told you should do – waves his arms around like a madman and generally makes himself look as big as possible. “Everyone else around here acts like they’ve never seen a black man before, why should a bear be different?”

The duo almost catch up with Brown and Alley, but he hitches a ride on a truck.

This ends the wilderness pursuit. Berenger and Poitier are in Canada, and Poitier is in his element, investigating a burglary that he works out must be Brown and Alley. Poitier even uses the line “You’re in my territory now.”

They find out Brown called a diamond dealer, so Poitier and Berenger stage a break-in to his house to get him to tell them where he’s meeting Brown. This scene is quite funny, as they tie him up and act like they’re going to burn his house down, without letting him see who they are. It makes a nice change from just beating someone up to get the information.

Everything’s heading for a finale, at the local skating rink. At this point, I’m not sure why Brown still has Alley as a prisoner, given she’s of no real use to him. Once he made it to Canada, he could stay under the radar much more easily on his own. But that would lower the stakes for the finale, so I’ll let them off.

There’s a car chase, which ends on a car ferry, and a slightly ridiculous chase, a face-off between Poitier and Brown which ends with both of them in the water still fighting, until Poitier finally shoots Brown, and Berenger gets to haul Poitier out of the water.

Definitely a very silly film, a warmed-over Cliffhanger without that film’s sense of spectacle. And the 80s-ness of it is in large part because the score is filled with that 80s drum sound that pervades the cinema of the time. And it utterly wastes Kirstie Alley who gets to do almost nothing except be dragged around as a hostage by Brown.

After the film, recording continues with the start of The Rygby World Cup. But the recording stops shortly, and underneath there’s part of Horizon – Cold Fusion which I’ve looked at before.

After this, there’s a bit of Channel 4 Daily Box Office with some entertainment news. There’s hopes of a Beatles reunion, and Oscar news, when Driving Miss Daisy won best film, Denzel Washington won Supporting Actor, Brenda Fricker off of Casualty won Supporting Actress. There’s also a look at Kingsley Amis’s new book The Folks That Live on the Hill.

The tape runs out during the rest of Channel 4 Daily.

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