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USA 1992
Directed by
Howard Franklin
92 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

The Public Eye

It is not surprising that Mark Isham provided the score for Howard Franklin’s film as it recalls the work of another under-rated writer-director with whom Isham has worked, Alan Rudolph (compare Rudolph’s The Moderns, 1988, and Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, 1996). Both men share the kind of sophisticated flair for genre film writing that harks back to classic studio-era Hollywood. Indeed the best things about this engaging film are its well-thought-out concept and excellent production design recreating early 1940s New York.

Built around the work of real life photo-journalist, Weegee, here renamed Leon Bernstein and played by gusto Joe Pesci, it skilfully weaves a Chinatown-like story of greed, gangsters, official corruption, loneliness and lost love out of the relatively unlikely pairing of a small-time photo-journalist (Pesci) and a night-club owner, Kay Levitz (Barbara Hershey). Indeed the romantic dalliance between Levitz and the gnomic Bernstein is rather perfunctory in dramatic terms but this is after all essentially a genre picture. Hershey, in this respect does an alluring job as the femme fatale who lures the smitten Bernstein into her web of intrigue but ultimately providing him with the means to realize his life-long dream.

FYI: Franklin has only directed two other films Larger Than Life (1996) and Quick Change (1990), his best known credit being for the screenplay of The Name of the Rose.




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