Sunday, September 22, 2013

Day Two Hundred and Sixty-five - The Man With One Red Shoe, "It's SO ridiculous, that I can ALMOST actually believe it"

The Cold War was a golden age for both spy dramas and comedies... and a reality where the truth seemed, sometimes, stranger than fiction... so much so that it could totally be plausible for rogue factions of the CIA to be playing these sorts of games in order to resolve a power struggle.

I'm speaking, of course, of the antics of Dabney Coleman and Charles Durning in the film (which is a remake of a french piece), one an ambitious field leader gunning for the Director's position that the other holds. Both men have loyal agents on their side and both men play fast and loose with the lives of the little people, more worried about their own power than the greater good.

While shows like The West Wing prefer to inspire with the idea that government workers serve at the will of the President to make the world a better place... a real Camelot mentality... the 80's were full of cynical films like this where it was all about "I've got mine, Jack."

As a vehicle for Tom Hanks, it's safe to say that he has better titles under his belt, both before and since. He plays the eponymous Man with the One Red Shoe whom Ed Herrmann (as the assistant to Durning's CIA Director) randomly picks out of a crowd to send Coleman's crew on a wild goose chase after. Hanks' Richard Drew is a violinist having a reluctant affair with his best friend's (Jim Belushi) wife (Carrie Fisher) (the sort of thing you could get away with in, say, France), who finds himself drawn to Lori Singer's secret agent who is trying to covertly steal whatever it is they think he might be hiding being the spy that he really isn't.

What follows from the premise is an unhappy comedy of errors where Hanks unintentionally outwits the efforts of the crack CIA squad shadowing his every move. Not only that, but he manages to avoid Jim Belushi's jealous rage through more mishaps that make Belushi's character, Morris, feel as if he's hallucinating dead bodies everywhere.

It's hard to believe Lori Singer's portrayal as a gung-ho honey trap who falls for her mark. Her acting is never convincing and she basically feels like she was cast as a substitute for Daryl Hannah as her look screams that the director was going for the exact same box office magic as Splash, trying to steal thunder from Ron Howard.

That's not to say that there aren't a few interesting shots. While, overall, the cinematography is rote and occasionally goofy, there are moments at the beginning when Ed Herrmann is searching the airport for his patsy that are actually a little inspired. They quickly fall to the wayside in favor of cheap production work, though.

I think that my biggest disappointment, though, is the cameo of David Ogden Stiers as the conductor of Hanks' orchestra. I love the man to death and he has serious presence... it's just such a shame that he is only in this one scene. The movie could've stood to have a few recurring characters like him to offer balance to the increasing surreal antics of the two CIA teams.

As movies go, The Man With One Red Shoe is a cheap Saturday matinee at best, only really worth seeing if you're working through Hanks' film catalog. I'd say skip it... and check out the original: The Tall, Blonde Man With One Black Shoe!

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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