Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated Detective/Mysteries - Dan Nishimura ""

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Underrated Detective/Mysteries - Dan Nishimura

Dan Akira Nishimura is a 2012 MA graduate of San Francisco State University. He's a contributor to the journal Noir City (http://filmnoirfoundation.organd theWorld Film Locations series published by Intellect Books. He blogs at
On twitter @crimsonk1959.
The Man with Bogart's Face (1980; Robert Day)
Robert Sacchi is Sam Marlowe, a later day Bogie in 1940's detective mode. Michelle Phillips co-stars as a ringer for Gene Tierney [Laura (1944)]. Besides the face, Sacchi captures Bogart's vocal inflections and nervous tics. Los Angeles locations and George Duning's period inspired music add to the charm of this poignant mystery. Andrew J. Fenady adapted his own novel. 

Mikes Murder (1984; James Bridges)
Debra Winger shows her versatility in this low-key crime drama. When Betty Parrish (Winger) finally meets a nice guy, he turns up dead. Written and directed by James Bridges [Urban Cowboy (1980)]. In his review at, Vince Keenan delves into the contentious history of the film, "a tale of losers in a city of winners. Mike’s Murder is not a great movie. But I’d lobby for it to be considered one of the great Los Angeles films, with a seductive, doomy vision all its own." Also look for Winger in Bob Rafelson's Black Widow (1987). 
Someone to Watch Over Me (1987; Ridley Scott)
Everyone remembers Scott's classic Blade Runner (1982). This atmospheric thriller was popular in its time but is largely forgotten today. Tom Berenger [Platoon (1986)] stars as New York detective Mike Keegan assigned to protect socialite Claire Gregory (Mimi Rogers). Lorraine Bracco (The Sopranos) and Jerry Orbach (Law and Order) lend support. Aided by Michael Kamen's rich musical score, the tone and emotion have stuck with me all these years. 

Johnny Handsome (1989; Walter Hill)
Morgan Freeman is a cynical New Orlean's detective on the trail of bank robbers. Their leader, Johnny, is unrecognizable after getting his deformed face fixed by a sympathetic prison doctor (Forest Whitaker). Terrific performances all around, with Mickey Rourke as Johnny, Ellen Barkin, Lance Henriksen and Scott Wilson as members of his crew and Elizabeth McGovern as the "nice girl" who enters his life. Music by Ry Cooder.

Blow Out (1981; Brian De Palma)
Underrated by some for a seeming lack of originality, Blow Out takes inspiration from Blow-Up (1966) andThe Conversation (1974) but stands on its own. An audio technician in search of nature sounds in the woods records what could be murder. John Travolta and Nancy Allen, re-teamed from Carrie (1976), are excellent as is Vilmos Zsigmond's cinematography and the score by Pino Donaggio [Dressed to Kill (1980)].


Marty McKee said...

SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME is Ridley Scott's forgotten movie. Even by me. I saw it in theaters, but don't remember a damned thing about it. I thought about catching it on cable a couple of times, but didn't pull the trigger. Maybe it's worth revisiting?

Blake Lucas said...

And MIKE'S MURDER is James Bridges' forgotten movie. I really appreciated seeing it on your list and what you said about it as an L.A. movie (I am one who has lived there through most of my life). It could be argued if it's great or not, I guess, but it's sure much closer to it than most 80s American movies. It has remained haunting in my mind and though he made some popular films (unlike this one), I consider it Bridges' best movie and it's my understanding that he felt that way too.