True Crime

I like Clint Eastwood’s new directorial and star vehicle, True Crime. I recommend it to Eastwood lovers and non-Eastwood lovers, people who believe the justice system is flawed, opponents of capital punishment, people who like James Woods and car chases, and the rest of you who like a good yarn. True Crime is not The Maltese Falcon, and it’s not Presumed Innocent, but it’ll keep your attention from the opening credits to the song at the end. Do yourself a favor, though, and leave before the song. End of review.

No, wait.A killer, Frank Beachum (Isaiah Washington), is in San Quentin, having been sentenced to die by lethal injection at midnight, and ace reporter Steve Everett (Clint Eastwood), currently up to his eyeballs in his own personal problems, is the only one who can save him. Maybe Frank Beachum is innocent. But reporter Steve isn’t. He has a libidinous thing for the wives of his bosses. Sadly, he doesn’t hear about Beachum until there isn’t nearly enough time left before the midnight execution hour for Everett to save Beachum. Tough luck. End of review.

No, wait. The hard-boiled newspaper editor-in-chief, Alan Mann (James Woods) believes in dissolute Steve Everett, and anyway he wants to know just how good in bed the wife of city editor Bob Findley (Denis Leary) is, because Everett is sleeping with her too. Women seem to fall all over themselves when Steve Everett walks into the room. We come to know that there are reasons other than that Eastwood is the director. Women love him because he is politically incorrect (virile), a recovering alcoholic (sensitive), and can devise wonderful games to play with his little girl (Francesca Fisher-Eastwood), like Speed Zoo, where, in order to get his parental duties over with so he can hurry to an interview, he pushes the five-year-old in a rickety stroller at top speed through the Oakland Zoo, until she falls out onto the concrete and ends up with several owwies. End of marriage.

No, wait. Everett’s wife (Diane Venora) doesn’t divorce him yet. She will, eventually, but he just may win the Pulitzer Prize first. As in all Eastwood movies, justice will be served.

Performances by James Woods, Isaiah Washington and Beachum’s wife (Lisa Gay Hamilton) are standouts. Woods seems to have been taking Richard Fish lessons from Allie McBeal, but he has learned them well. He loves saying things like "I hate my reporters who have hunches!!"The screenplay is ragged, but suspenseful, and we don’t know until the last moment whether the good guys, who aren’t too good, or the bad guys, who are only doing their jobs, will win. But they tip the ending ‘way back in the first reel, so it’s not particularly surprising.

As in all Eastwood movies there is a very nice jazz influenced soundtrack – until that final song. But why, why, why, with all the wonderful songwriters in America, does Clint Eastwood have to collaborate on his own music to close his own movie in which he is already producer, director, and star actor? It’s dumbfounding. He did get a great singer, though, Diana Krall, and enough top-flight record producers to cover up the lyrics with washes of pianos and strings. Thank God for strings and Diana Krall.

End of review.

– DAK

True Crime (Video Release)image