Mike’s Murder

Mike’s Murder. James Bridges. 1984.

I’ve had the soundtrack album (by Joe Jackson (not one of the Jackson siblings)) since I was a teenager:

It’s pretty odd as soundtrack albums go: It’s got three vocal songs on the first side, and then instrumentals on the reverse. I kinda sorta assumed that perhaps only the instrumentals were in the actual movie, but then Jackson had embellished them into vocal versions for the album?

I guess I’ll find out tonight!

Hm… Jackson is credited with “additional music” in the opening credits… not a good sign…

This movie is by a director I know nothing about, but he’s done stuff like Urban Cowboy and The China Syndrome… which are, I guess, well-received big-budget movies? This seems distinctly low-budget.

Hm, not, $6.3M in 1984 isn’t that bad. But it totally, utterly bombed at the box office.

Still, he went on to direct Perfect, the vehicle for Jamie Lee Curtis and John Travolta (which also failed commercially and critically), and then did Bright Lights, Big City with Michael J. Fox, Kiefer Sutherland and the rest of that crowd, which, again, wasn’t a success.

This isn’t a good movie. All the tension depends on us caring about these characters a lot, but we’re given no reason to do so. If the actors had been charming, that might have helped, but they’re pretty useless; Debra Winger is by far the best of them. The cinematography is relentlessly blah, so there’s not even that.

The structure is also way … strange. It’s basically about a guy running from the mob, but we mainly follow the guy’s girlfriend. And everything takes so long. She goes to visit his former boss/boyf and they’re in that garden, talking, for what seems like eons.

They do use some of the vocal Jackson songs, though: As background music playing on the stereo in some scenes. Makes sense.

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