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Premiere Mag
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Back in 1992, I wondered how many times 
Jeff Bridges ran his hands through his hair. 

So I watched all his movies, 
counted the number of times, 
and sold this to Premiere Magazine.

Jagged Edge review
It’s amazing how two people can see the same movie and write completely different reviews. To the left, a review I found on Netflix.

Below, my review.

Your Random Movie Club Results Are In!

Cool Dialogue: “You think I killed my wife? Prove it.”

Tagline: When a murder case is this shocking, which do you trust... your emotions or the evidence?
Pizza: Joe Peeps

Preshow Entertainment: Jerry and Dean’s Television Party for MDA (1953)


I’ve seen JAGGED EDGE (1985) a bunch of times. The first time, in the theater, I was blown away, just like Siskel and Ebert were, as well as almost everyone. I saw it again a few years later, on Video Home System (VHS, to you neo-Luddites) and found it pedestrian. Of course having known all the twists and turns from the first viewing certainly lessened the wow factor. Another few years go by and guess what? I watched it again…and liked it again. Years later, I didn’t like it, finding it not just routine, but actually cheesy, with ham-fisted clichés seeping out of my Sony and staining my carpeting. So when it was selected by the Random Movie Generator, I was curious as to which side my jagged taste would land on, which makes sense, as the movie itself is a guessing game. Suffice to say, this time it landed on the good side. So, for today anyway, I’m going to recommend JAGGED EDGE.


I have a theory as to why I teeter so much on this movie. When JAGGED EDGE first came out, it was new and refreshing, spinning the tired thriller into a bombastic yet super-fun joyride. And it hit big. So big that Hollywood did what it does best – produced a spate of bombastic yet super-fun thrillers, like SEA OF LOVE, FATAL ATTRACTION and BASIC INSTINCT. In fact, the first movie I sold (it was never made) rode on this very wave. But of course, mine was so much better than the others, right? Anyway, eventually, SLIVER was released, and the wave hit the breakwater…and that was that. So what was mildly clichéd then is now uber clichéd. Therefore, let’s be kind to JAGGED EDGE, since it did rebirth the thriller genre. That said, it’s also fun to make fun of things, so I’ve assembled a list of JAGGED EDGE clichés:

  • The “Is he innocent or is he a murderer?” character, who stands to collect millions from his wife’s death, and whose boyishness flies in the face of his alleged crime.
  • The female lawyer with a conscience. And a guy’s name.
  • The potty-mouthed P.I. named, of course, Sam, who wears a tee shirt with a rip in it and has a mini-fridge stocked with nothing but beer.
  • The slick D.A. who, when not in the courtroom, is sipping on a drink or puffing on a cigar.
  • Characters eating Chinese food out of containers.
  • The car that won’t start when someone is trying to get away fast.
  • The shower someone takes when they want to wash the “filth” off them.
  • Fake’n’forced dialogue spilling from the mouths of plastic kids.
  • The scene of the crime is a lone house…on a hill…by the ocean, waves crashing against the rocks.
  • The crime occurred on a dark and stormy night.
  • And cliché-i-est of them all: The janitor who reads Boudoir Magazine while at work and talks like a classic henchman in a noir radio play.

But please don’t get me wrong, for despite all the clichés, there’s a fun and suspenseful movie here.



JAGGED EDGE opens with a double murder, and though we’re present for it, we don’t get to see who the killer is. He or she is in a knit cap. Enter Teddy Barnes (Glenn Close, who, now that I think about it, has a guy’s name in real life, too), the lawyer who will defend Jack Forrester (Jeff Bridges), arrested for the murder of his wife (newspaper owner Paige Forrester) and their maid. Teddy, a tough and focused lawyer who gave up criminal law to wash herself clean of all the sneaky bullshit, is conflicted…till she meets Jack. She’s swept away by his candor, his looks, his charm and his horses (there’s a stable on the estate’s property). It’s not long before she falls for him, a cardinal sin both in the legal profession and the thriller genre. It’s rarely a smart choice. I’m not saying Jack is the murderer, I’m just saying it’s rarely a smart choice.

It doesn’t help Jack’s case that D.A. Krasny (Peter Coyote) is bitter towards Jack for writing scathing editorials against him in his newspaper. And if that’s not enough, Krasny and Teddy have a history – she knows he covered up evidence in the trial of one Harry Styles a few years ago, when she worked for Krasny, evidence that could have saved Styles from going to jail…and eventually hanging himself. That’s Teddy’s demon. And her want? Well, she’s a divorcee with two kids. You put the pieces together.


Helping her with the case is salty P.I. Sam Ransom (sure sounds like a noir nod – Sam Ransom, P.I.), played by juicy scene stealing Robert Loggia, who digs around for clues but mostly keeps Teddy in check (“Is that your head talking or another part of your anatomy?”). I’ve said it a million times, always get a funny foul-mouthed slob to help you if you’re ever accused of ripping your wife open with a hunting knife and writing “bitch” in her blood on the wall over her bed.


So those are the players, and that’s the set up. Did he do it? Well, that’s the mystery, as symbolized by Krasny slamming a nesting doll down on evidentiary documents, as if to say, “This is a puzzle within a puzzle within a puzzle.”

Director Richard Marquand only helmed 6 movies (including RETURN OF THE JEDI and the too-forgotten-about EYE OF THE NEEDLE) in his cut-short life (he didn’t quite make it to 50). He does a fine job here, though I wish he didn’t put in all those courtroom audience murmurs each time shocking evidence or testimony was revealed. It’s laughable, akin to that scene in THE MAN WITH TWO BRAINS (http://go.shr.lc/1fc4caZ). But as much as it pains me to say it, a lot of the success of JAGGED EDGE has to go to Hungarian bully Joe Eszterhas.


What can I say about writer Joe Eszterhas? A lot. But I won’t. Let’s just shortcut it by saying he was responsible for some of the worst movies (or best guilty pleasures, take your pick) ever made. Movies like, well, see if you can guess; Teenaged girl Alex (yet another guy’s name) is a welder by day, erotic dancer by night, lives in a warehouse-sized apartment, dates her older boss and dreams of being accepted into the dance academy though she’s never had a dance lesson in her life. FLASHDANCE was nominated for a Razzie that year, but Joe lost to THE LONELY LADY (screened at RMC in 2000 - we sure watch some fun movies!). But Joe redeemed himself later by getting Razzie nominations for both SLIVER and JADE, and winning – twice - for BURN HOLLYWOOD BURN and SHOWGIRLS.

JAGGED EDGE did leave a bit of an imprint on pop culture. For one, the folks at Adult Swim did a HARVEY BIRDMAN episode parroting (I went with the Birdman thing) JAGGED EDGE’s shower scene, discovery of the typewriter with the raised ‘t’, the horses, and other stuff that makes no sense if you’ve never seen the movie.  JAGGED EDGE also had a personal moment for RMC. Towards the end of the movie, a bunch of reporters swarm to ask questions, and RMCer Jessie jumped up from the couch screaming - “That’s my dad!” He was an extra, playing a reporter.

There’s something else about JAGGED EDGE that became famous - its continuity and lack thereof. In the first courtroom scene, Glenn Close is wearing a gray pantsuit. Moments later, they cut to her in a black outfit. Then, during the first witness’s examination, she’s wearing a third outfit, a brown one. Then back to the black one. And Krasny’s breast pocket cigars come and go as well. But I’ve discovered a bigger problem. When I bring it up, friends tap dance around why they think it’s not a problem, but I never agree.


Jack is wearing a black knit cap in the opening scene. But why? If he’s going there to kill both people in the house, what’s the point? Same thing at the end, when he goes to kill Teddy. If the movie were made today, the “maybe there are security cameras around the house” argument would hold water, but in 1985? Okay, we all know Jack covers his face for one reason only, and that’s because he was kind enough to realize there’d be no mystery if we saw him kill his wife. Nice of him to think of us! Here’s another. Jack claims the murderer hit him on the head and knocked him out, then killed the maid and Jack’s wife. Well, why did the murderer not kill Jack too? Even if it was person of interest Bobby Slade, who was vindictive and wanted to kill Paige; Slade killed the maid, so why wouldn’t he also kill Jack? Not a plot hole, per se, just sloppy. I mean, I suppose it’s possible that the murderer, for whatever reason, killed the maid and only knocked Jack out. And while we’re in the Spoiler Box, let me throw some plot holes your way.

If Jack set this whole thing up, he was sure counting on a lot. This was his plan:

  1. A year and a half before I murder my wife and maid, I’ll brutally rape a woman in Santa Cruz using the same knife I will kill my wife with, so I could frame tennis instructor Bobby Slade.
  2. I will hope Bobby Slade doesn’t die or move in those 18 months.
  3. I’ll get Teddy Barnes to represent me. And then have sex with her.
  4. To ensure that they’ll make the connection, I’ll send anonymous notes to Teddy, and with any luck, no one will investigate who is sending her these notes.
  5. I’ll only type these notes on an easily traceable typewriter. I don’t even need to get the broken “t” key fixed, even though it can connect me to this crime.
  6. To be safe, I’ll hide the typewriter in the most remote place possible, under some towels in the bedroom, a few yards from where I’ll have sex with Teddy.

Here are more holes, unrelated to Jack’s plan:

  1. Jack is either super lucky or Teddy’s super dumb. At one point, Teddy thinks Jack is the murderer. She even tells him to his face. Yet not only does she continue defending him, she doesn’t seem the least bit afraid that he’s insane and can kill her whenever he chooses. She’s more hurt that he lied to her.
  2. And how weird was it that after the trial, Teddy tells the press that she was complicit with Krasny in withholding evidence in the Harry Styles case? Surely she’ll be disbarred for that! (We assume Krasny gets disbarred.)
  3. Teddy finds the typewriter in Jack’s closet! Okay, that hole’s big enough on its own, but what happens next? Later, when he realizes she knows it was him, Jack decides he must kill her. But why does he think she’s hasn’t already called the police? She didn’t, but she should have, and any sane man would have thought that she did. Oh, wait…


So yes, I said this was a good script and yes, it’s Swiss cheese. But this just proves one thing; that when people buy a ticket, they want to take the ride, even if they can see the wires that make the Spook House skeleton move. They’re willing to not see things in the interest of having a good time. And with that said, JAGGED EDGE is indeed a fun ride.

Preshow Entertainment: Jerry and Dean’s Television Party for MDA

On Thanksgiving of 1953, ABC ran a variety show hosted by Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. This was the precursor to the famous Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy telethons that began in 1966 and ran for decades. There were no tote boards here. The money would come via donations given to local letter carriers working after hours and on their days off to hit every house in every town.

Eddie Cantor began the show by introducing Dean and Jerry, who were the hugest stars in the country at the time, though their partnership would end bitterly in 1956. We only got to watch about 30 minutes of this 1 hour 40 minute time capsule of what live TV was like, and, for that matter, what entertainment was like in the Golden Age of Television. Here’s what we saw:

Letter Carriers of America spokesman Bill Dougherty made Dean and Jerry honorary members. I love that he said, “You’ll find that the pay isn’t so good, but it’s an outside job…” Then, four mailmen, The Minneapolis Letter Carriers Quartet, sang SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY barbershop quartet-style. Way to open big! Two of them looked like Burt Mustin and Charles Lane, so I’m pretty sure they’ve retired to their pine postal boxes by now. Dean sang THAT’S AMORE, which was currently on the charts and would become his signature song. Carol Richards came on next singing OVER THE RAINBOW with its introductory verse heard in many versions, but not featured in THE WIZARD OF OZ. The orchestra did a solid 4 minutes, followed by Phil Harris (Baloo in THE JUNGLE BOOK) singing MINNIE THE MERMAID.

We’ll have to watch the rest sometime soon!

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