I talked about the bonkers finale of Brian De Palma’s Raising Cain in some detail a while ago. Here, finally, is the whole film. So what did I miss from the start?
John Lithgow stars as Carter Nix. Always a good thing. He’s looking after his daughter in a playground, and talking to a family friend, who’s there with her son.
On the way home, he starts asking her if she’d bring her son to a Swedish clinic for child behaviour, to monitor gifted children. She poo-poos this suggestion, almost laughing at it, which makes Lithgow get a bit defensive, as child development is his field of study, and he starts sneezing. Then he sneezes dust into her face, and she has to stop the car because she’s got something in her eye.
But things immediately get creepier, as he then knocks her out with Chloroform, and almost gets noticed by two men jogging past, but he’s helped by the sudden appearance of Cain, his twin brother, at the car window, also played by Lithgow.
Later, Cain takes the kidnapped boy to a motel, where his father is staying (also played by Lithgow – amazing value). It’s the father who runs the Swedish clinic Carter was talking about.
Carter’s wife, Lolita Davidovich, meets a man she once had a brief affair with, Jack.
They agree to meet next day in the park, and find a hidden place to smooch, but she thinks she sees her husband Carter through the trees, something that she remembers in a dream later. It’s quite hard to tell what’s a dream and what’s actually happening in this film, which I think is deliberate.
Then we find out how she and Jack met in the first place. She’s an oncologist, and he was with his wife, who was dying of cancer, and the two of them form a bond, tragically broken when they kiss and hug in the wife’s room, not noticing that she’s turned over and is looking at them. Jack notices by the reflection in the TV, then turns, and we get a set of jump cuts closer into the wife’s staring face. It’s textbook De Palma.
There’s more nightmares, as Davidovich is driving home, swerves to avoid some cyclists, only to run the car into a statue holding a long lance, which impales her. But this is only a dream.
But having wakened from the dream, She’s talking to Carter about the possibility of him going back to work, when he suddenly starts smothering her with a pillow. We get a flashback to the time she was smooching in the park, and see it from Carter’s point of view. His brother Cain appears, and tells him he’ll take care of it. He finds Jack’s coat, with his car keys, the proceeds to kidnap another child, kill its mother, stuff her body into Jack’s trunk, then put the keys back into Jack’s coat, which is the point at which Carter’s wife saw him.
After this flashback, we cut back to Cain, having smothered Davidovich, he puts her in the back of a car, and rolls it into a nearby lake. He’s nervous when the car stops sinking, and the sun’s coming up, then, shockingly, Davidovich wakes up and starts bashing on the rear window trying to get out. But the car sinks and she’s gone.
Carter, not knowing where his wife is, goes to the police, and gives them a description of Jack. An old retired cop sees him and recognises him from an old case involving his father. His father was buying babies, and they caught him with five babies. He skipped bail and fled to Sweden, but the cop called someone who knew Carter’s father, Dr Lynn Waldheim, played by the reliable Frances Sternhagen.
Waldheim tells the police about Dr Nix’s book about multiple personalities, featuring a boy which they called Cain, who had split personalities based on childhood trauma. Waldheim believed that Dr Nix had created Cain’s multiple personalities himself by subjecting the young boy to trauma.
As they are talking to her, a car is found in the lake with a woman’s body inside, so Carter has to identify the body. Another great De Palma reveal, as the coroner shows them the woman’s nails saying she was trying to claw her way out. “You should see the expression on her face.”
Later, in the park, having distributed the artist’s impression of Jack around the park, they find him sitting on a bench waiting for Davidovich. They get him to open his trunk, and there’s another dramatic reveal of another dead woman.
Carter is waiting at home when his father calls, telling him to come to the hotel. He flips through the channels on the TV, and alights upon the channel that’s monitoring the camera in their daughter’s room, to see Davidovich’s face staring at him.
She overpowers him and threatens him with a scalpel. Cain talks to him over her shoulder, but when she looks there’s no one there, which is the first time the film explicitly acknowledges that Cain is Carter.
So now Carter/Cain is in custody, and Waldheim, who literally wrote the book on him when she worked with Dr Nix, interviews him, to try to find out where their daughter has been taken. But he headbutts her, steals her wig (she’s being treated for Cancer) and walks out of the station. Davidovich sees hir walking out, and follows them to the motel where Dr Nix has the kidnapped children.
This is where my precis in the climax started when I looked at it last year. It is just as bonkers as when I watched it with no context, but with the added surprise that the father, Dr Nix, turns out to be actually alive, and not just another figment of Carter’s psyche. Do go back and read the previous entry, I think it’s fun.
After this, recording switches to BBC2. After yesterday’s first episode of Man on the Moon, I was rather upset when I checked my database and found that I hadn’t listed part two on any other tape, so I’d mentally resigned myself to having missed it. But I have not.
Next on this tape is part two, which I had catalogued as One Small Step, which is what the overall season of documentaries was called. So now I can enjoy the story of the moon landings.
Regular readers will not be surprised to hear that my eyes are getting slightly moist just from Neil Armstrong’s introduction, and the CAP-COM voice: “Tranquility base, here, the Eagle has landed”
Here’s Ray Bradbury, at the time.
Buzz Aldrin is interviewed.
Astronaut Charlie Duke was Cap-Com at mission control.
When the LEM lands safely, there’s footage from all over the world. But the only English voice is this old lady saying “I think it’s disgusting. It’s a pity they haven’t got something else to do. Not excited at all. Be better if they did something for the old’uns.” She’s so Brexit.
Yes, dear reader, I did cry when they landed. I probably always will, when watching Humanity’s greatest technological achievement. But one thing I did miss from this is BBC coverage of the moon landing, most of which was apparently junked sometime in the 70s. Here, there was some audio of James Burke, but no pictures from the coverage. They can send a man to the moon, but the BBC can’t pay a few pennies to preserve film and tape of history.
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 30th June 1994 – 21:30
After this, there’s a trailer for Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and one for The Late Show on Pedro Almodovar.
Then, Newsnight which leads with the by-election in Monklands East constituency, vacant after the sudden, and shocking death of Labour leader John Smith.
Also in the news, the return of Yasser Arafat to his home in Gaza.
And there’s a story on proposals to privatise the Post Office, something even John Major’s government eventually realised was a bad idea.
There’s a couple of young, familiar faces, like Alex Salmond
And, talking about Post Office privatisation, Alan Johnson, then a Union rep.
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 30th June 1994 – 22:30
After this, a trailer for State of the Ark.
Then, an episode of The Late Show with a profile of Spanish film director Pedro Almodovar.
They visit his mother.
Almodovar regular Antonio Banderas
Another regular was Carmen Maura
The Guardian’s Suzanne Moore
John Waters talks about his films always getting an X rating in the US.
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 30th June 1994 – 23:15
After this, a trailer for Rudolph Cartier A Television Pioneer and Nineteen Eighty Four.
There’s Weather from Bill Giles.
Then, the tape ends during the coverage of the Monklands East by election.