MIAMI BLUES (1989 US) D/W: GEORGE ARMITAGE P: JONATHAN DEMME/GARY GOETZMAN
Armitage returned to directing features after 13 years (discounting the 1979 tv movie HOT ROD) with this excellent adaptation of Charles Willeford's fine novel. Alec Baldwin is surprisingly good as a a sociopathic ex-con and pathological thief called Junior (who occasionally reminded me of Lawrence Tierney's DILLINGER) who immediately starts a crime spree when he flies into Miami (by breaking a Hare Krishna's finger at the airport). Jennifer Jason Leigh is brilliant as the childish hooker (a part almost played by Suzanne Vega) he hooks up with and Fred Ward (an Executive Producer) is great as Hoke Moseley, the slob cop on his trail (the protagonist in the book, he's much less so, and much less amiable here). With Charles Napier, Shirley Stoler, Martine Beswick, Obba Babatunde, Nora Dunn, Buddy Joe Hooker and Paul Gleason. It was shot by Tak Fujimoto, and has Norman Greenbaum's Spirit In The Sky for a theme tune. Willeford's projected sequel called Grimhaven was rejected by his publisher for being too dark (the same fate befell his brilliant mid-70s novel The Shark-Infested Custard, which was eventually released in the 90s), but parts were recycled in the further entries in the Hoke Moseley series, New Hope For The Dead (1985), Sideswipe (1987) and The Way We Die Now (1988). Like anything by Willeford, they are all recommended reads. Willeford died prior to the film's release in 88, MIAMI BLUES is dedicated to him (and look for the framed photograph of him on Moseley's desk). The cinema was good to Willeford, this coming between two other great adaptations, COCKFIGHTER and THE WOMAN CHASER.

BACK TO MAIN LIST

BACK TO GENKAN