Color of Night (1994) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Tuna's comments in white: 

Color of Night is yet another Maltin Bomb that I found entertaining. Seems I am the only one who likes this film. This is my second run at it -- the first was the VHS version, and it produced some very nice images this time. Let me get a start at the plot. Bruce Willis is a fancy New York psychologist who watches in horror as a patient he has just been a little hard on jumps from his top story window. He, of course, blames himself, and is so shaken that he becomes color blind (her blood on the pavement faded from red to grey as he looked down).

He abandons his practice, and heads out to California to visit his colleague/best friend/school chum hoping to heal. When he first arrives, his friend introduces him to a Monday night therapy group full of characters. The next day, his friend is murdered, and the therapy group becomes suspect. Willis is enlisted to take over the group and try to find the killer. Meanwhile, Jane March enters his life, and they move from hello to heavy moaning in record time.

The detractors of this film mention that it is full of cliches, that the viewer knows who the killer is long before the "stupid characters," and that the directing is lose giving a slow pace. They also complain about excessive nudity and boring dialogue. I must be as stupid as the cast, as I did not figure out the identity of the killer ahead of Willis. I thought the acting was good to very good, the art direction was strong, and some of the character development was good. There is subtlety to the film that I think most people miss. I think the real reason for the bad reviews is that people are expecting Die Hard and get Agatha Christie with a lot of nudity. It would certainly not be as entertaining without the 17 minutes of exposure added to the director's cut. The DVD transfer is very well done.

 This film is certainly not a ten, and probably could have been directed and cut better, but I didn't hit fast-forward once. To me, that means it is watchable. Then again, I don't expect every film to be an Oscar contender, and don't detest those that aren't


all possible body parts from Jane March and Bruce Willis
Scoopy's comments in yellow (WARNING: COMPLETE SPOILERS)

Scoopy Jr has mentioned that he thinks this is a really poor movie. Tuna likes it.

I pretty much agree with both of them. It is a really bad movie, but I still enjoy watching it. I know it was a financial and critical disaster. I know what the sensible critics say, and they are right. I can find plenty of flaws in the film.

And yet I thought the film was moderately entertaining as an example of the Basic Instinct school of films. It's an attempt to combine a Hitchcock film with a grade B erotic thriller. 

The bad news is that the big "surprise" was completely screwed up by bad make-up. You aren't supposed to notice that Jane March plays several different characters. Do you remember on Wild, Wild West that you immediately knew when a character was actually Artemus in disguise? Well, you have the same problem here. The problem in this movie is Jane's disguises are about as effective as Artie's, so whenever you see her in disguise you just think "Oh, it's Jane in disguise again". With Wild, Wild, West that didn't really matter. It was a gag, and you were in on it. But with this movie the whole suspense angle hinges on the effectiveness of the disguises, and they stink.

Of course, the set-up reached deep into the vault of clichés to begin with. Bruce Willis's friend and fellow psychiatrist is murdered, obviously by one member of his group therapy session. They are all weirdoes. They all seem capable of being the murderer. The film has rounded up the usual suspects.

Of course, Willis also takes on a new lover during the investigation. She is supposed to have nothing to do with the murders. But even if you don't see that it's Jane March, who is also one of the members of the therapy group, you have to ask yourself why she is in the plot at all. Doesn't it stand to reason that the screenwriter introduced her because she was somehow relevant? Unfortunately, yes. How about other members of the group? Gosh, some of them are also entering new romances, and their lovers also look like ..... you know who.

The movie also includes a couple of real gaps in continuity and logic. At group therapy, all of the patients find out from a photograph that they have the same girlfriend (Jane March). We also know that the murderer is a member of the group. Therefore, unless Jane March (also in the group in disguise) has an explanation for why she doesn't have the same girlfriend, it will be immediately obvious who is the killer. What happens? March in disguise picks up the photo of March as a woman, and the camera cuts away - no explanation. When they resume the discussion in the same office with the police lieutenant, Richie (March) is simply gone from the scene, without explanation. Nobody looks around to say "where's Richie"? The whole friggin' thing makes no sense. 

Another ludicrous scene: someone is stalking Willis in a car. Willis parks on the ground floor of a covered parking garage and walks out. The stalker is on the roof of the garage in one car, and used that car to push another car down on to Willis. What? Wait a minute. How could the stalker, perched on the top level of the parking garage, far from the edge, know where and when Willis was going to emerge from the covered area six floors below? It was another scripting loophole

The end of the movie is also completely unbelievable, hinging on several improbable coincidences and last-minute rescues and such, topped off by a finale atop a tower in the wind and rain, with the rising symphonic music and the vertiginous camera angles. You know, the whole Wagnerian Opera meets Hitchcock thing.

OK, it's a silly movie. The disguises don't work, the set-up is a cliché, there's no logic to the plot, and the ending is ludicrous. I guess that means it really stunk as a thriller, and yet I still enjoy watching it. Why? I don't know, but I have a theory.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen letterboxed 1.85:1

  • 15 extra minutes of extra footage added to the theatrical version

The Scoopy theory is summed up in The Weekly World News Rule, which goes like this.  The New York Times is a good newspaper.  I don't enjoy The New York Post because it isn't silly enough to be good sensationalism, and it isn't moderate enough to be impartial journalism. I don't like The National Enquirer because its sensationalism might be true, might be false, and that's just confusing. But I like Weekly World News because it is just so ludicrous and unbelievable that you can tell the writers are just thinking, "I'll bet some people actually believe this stuff"

I love to read Weekly World News, and I would love to write for Weekly World News. They must have fun in that office. In what other paper could you find a headline like "Supreme Court consults Elvis's Ghost in Big Decision". I know it isn't good, but I love it.

The Color of Night is The Weekly World News of movies.

 ... or maybe I just like the T&A.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: one star. Ebert 1.5/4, Berardinelli 1.5/4, Maltin 0/4

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. 0% positive reviews. 22 articles on file

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 4.8 
  • With their dollars ... a mammoth bomb. Made for $40 million, it grossed only $19 millon.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C-, I guess. Not a great genre film, but Tuna and I both find it surprisingly watchable. Scoopy Jr doesn't agree at all, however, and he is certainly right from any logical perspective.

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