The General's Daughter (1999) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna
never saw this movie at the theater, but I read so much about the
rape, murder, and nudity that I was expecting a real shocker in that
regard. That is far from the truth. It is a classy film noir thriller,
could be a Raymond Chandler story except that it takes place in the
Scratch that analysis. I just realized that if you wanted to write a Marlowe story today, it would HAVE to take place in the Army, so you could avoid all the political correctness of the civilian world. Travolta's investigator is as hard-boiled and cocky as they come, and he doesn't let anybody have an attorney or read them their rights or get any search warrants, and he doesn't need any stinkin' badges. (This is not a correct presentation of military justice, by the way). Everybody he investigates outranks him and, as in a Chandler story, everyone lies with every syllable they utter, so Barbarino uses the traditional detective trick of beating the living shit out of them and/or threatening them with 40 years in the brig and a court martial for hindering an investigation. He slips the cuffs on the high command if they give him any lip, and no courts can tell him not to.
He is the law, just like Stallone in Judge Dredd, except Travolta would have been better with Rob Schneider around than Madeleine Stowe.
|Madeleine Stowe? Yup, she's in there somewhere in a role that has no business being in the movie. Here's what happened. There were originally several scenes involving a rekindled romance between Stowe and Travolta. These are all on the DVD as deleted scenes, and they are not the usual crappy unfinished VHS images, but gorgeous scenes, fully finished in every way. Luckily, the director sobered up at the last minute, and realized that all that romantic sub-plot crap detracted from the central drama. The happy romantic ending was especially mood-destroying, so he shit-canned that footage.||
created a problem.
In the original concept, which included the romance, there was a reason for the Stowe character to be in the script. Unfortunately, without the romantic sub-plot, that reason was eliminated. Travolta could have been investigating on his own, and the story would have flowed much better that way. But the movie was already shot, cut, and scored, when the director decided to shit-can the romance, so he was stuck with several scenes that included Stowe for no apparent purpose, and some dialogue between Stowe and Travolta in the retained scenes that hinted at material only shown in the excised scenes. Without those deleted scenes to refer to, however, the dialogue made only oblique sense. Although Travolta and Stowe did some romantic bantering in the final cut, the resolution of the film gave us no indication of where all that led. It was just left hanging.
The movie originally ended with the two of them driving off together into the sunset, even though Travolta finds out that Stowe is not divorced at all, but has simply lied to him about her husband! And the driving off into the sunset goes on and on and on and on through a picturesque sunset over the Georgia swamps, turning the ending mood into that of a happy, fulfilled love story.
|Too bad about that
mess, but it's a good watch, anyway. What the hell, it's a perfect
Raymond Chandler story, as I said. Every single guy in the movie was a
possible suspect. Every single guy lied to or stonewalled the
investigators (except the West Point psychologist). The murder victim
slept with everyone on and off the base, except a couple of gay guys,
and we weren't even sure about them. Because of all these factors,
everyone was a suspect at one time or another, and the filmmaker kept
diverting our suspicion from one to another. And to make it truly
delicious, most of the people who were not guilty of the murder were
guilty of something or another that they wanted to hide, or that they
should have wanted to hide. Yup, a good enough watch. Hammett and
Chandler would love it.
The nudity, however, is not anywhere near so dramatic as we were led to believe.
comments in yellow:
The General's Daughter is a whodunit directed by Simon West.
A female Captain, daughter of a popular retiring General and Vice Presidential hopeful, is murdered. Her body is discovered naked and spread-eagled to tent stakes, and presumed to have been raped. John Travolta plays the CID investigator assigned to the case along with his ex-flame Madeleine Stowe, who plays a rape counselor and sexual crimes investigator.
It is immediately
obvious that the investigation has serious political overtones, and that
the death wasn't what it first seemed. Before the investigation reaches
its conclusion, the film is littered with skeletons falling out of the
closet, and it is a none-too-subtle indictment of the good old boy
network of career military men. The fact that Travolta is a Warrant
officer, rather than a college graduate officer like those he is
investigating, is important to the dynamic of the investigation. He has
little respect for the snooty college wiz kids, and seems to enjoy the
unlimited power his investigatory authority gives him. It's safe to say
that your enjoyment of the film will have a lot to do with how much you
appreciate Travolta's cocky, bullying performance.
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