Color of Night [Special Edition]

Studio: Kino Lorber Studio Classics

Aug 31, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Since the inception of the Academy Awards, only three films to win Best Picture have gone home without winning any of the other awards: The Broadway Melody (1929), Grand Hotel (1932), and Mutiny on the Bounty (1935). The same feat, on the other hand, has only been pulled off once at the annual Golden Raspberry Awards, the tongue-in-cheek ceremony held to honor the year’s “worst” movies. Despite nominations in nine different categories, Color of Night went home with only the biggest award of the evening, being named Worst Picture of 1994.

Now, the Razzies are barely any indication of any given year’s worst movie; the Golden Raspberry voters tend to shoot at only the biggest, easiest targets. (Anyone who thought Color of Night was the worst movie of 1994 obviously never saw The Birds II: Land’s End.) It may very well have seen the biggest fiasco of 1994 play out in the industry newspapers, and it’s by no means a very good movie, but it’s a more than watchable b-film with more than a few idiosyncrasies.

Bruce Willis plays Dr. Bill Capa, a New York psychiatrist who grills one patient a little too hard – and watches her throw herself out of his high-rise office window. This torpedoes his career, not only because of a lawsuit laid on him by the patient’s family, but because he completely loses faith in his abilities as a therapist. (The trauma has also made him colorblind for some reason that’s rarely addressed in the script.) Bill hightails it to California to clear some headspace with his college buddy, Bob (TV’s Scott Bakula), a much more successful psychiatrist.

Bill sits in on Bob’s weekly therapy group, which features a rogue’s gallery of early ‘90s movie “unstable types.” You have a nymphomaniac who longs to settle down, an obsessive-compulsive lawyer (played by career creepazoid Brad Dourif), a self-absorbed, sado-masochistic painter, a depressed former cop (Lance Henriksen), and a violent teenager with gender identity disorder. The next day, Bob confides in Bill that he’s been receiving anonymous threats from someone in the group – and is then murdered in his office a few hours later.

For whatever reason, Bill is allowed to continue living in his dead pal’s swanky pad, drive his convertible, and take over moderation of his therapy group. This is all done with the blessing of high-energy homicide detective Hector Martinez – Ruben Blades, playing far and away the movie’s best character – who hopes Bill will be able to suss out which one of the patients is the murderer. Along the way, Bill gets into a fender-bender with the skin-crawlingly young Rose (Jane March), which turns almost immediately into a passionate sexual affair.

Color of Night sounds like your standard erotic mystery-thriller on paper, but its blanket wonkiness and the many elementary-grade problems that crop up along the way turn it into the notorious trainwreck it’s become known to be over the decades. The first – and probably foremost – is that the killer is almost obvious; if a viewer hasn’t figured out the movie’s twist one third of the way into the movie, they’ll almost certainly be suspicious of the right person well before the script intends for them to be. Such a big deal is needlessly made of how Bruce Willis’ character can’t see the color red – maybe that was the filmmaker’s way of explaining how our hero was the only one who couldn’t see through the movie’s incredibly weak red herrings?

Second is the way the film’s erotic content is suddenly crammed in halfway through the movie. Whereas the first half features nothing in the way of explicitness, the movie goes from zero to softporn as soon as a young, struggling actress shows up at Bill’s house. We’re thrown into several straight, unadulterated minutes of soft-focus humping and cunnilingus – it’s the sort of sudden, shameless, prolonged sex scene you’d see after a young man gets pulled over by a female traffic cop in an old, late-night Cinemax skin flick, not what you’d expect as the midway point for a prime-era Bruce Willis drama.  (International cuts included a brief glimpse of Bruce Willis’ body double’s wee-wee.) The two-decade age disparity between Willis and March doesn’t help matters much in the creepiness department, either.

Some have made convincing arguments that Color of Night should be viewed as a comedy. In retrospect, that would make a lot of sense if it weren’t for sour-faced Willis playing its leading man. Everyone else in the movie – save for Bakula – seems to approach their role with a degree of camp, intentionally or not. This is most apparent in the therapy sessions, where seasoned character actors like Dourif and Henriksen are allowed to let their freak flags fly fully. I’d be inclined to believe the Color of Night-is-a-sly-comedy conspiracy theory if Willis didn’t seem to be taking everything so seriously. He seems less a straight man than a sourpuss pissed off that he wasn’t let in on the joke.

Color of Night was the center of a high-profile fight between its director, Richard Rush, and producer, Andrew Vajna, over final cut of the film. The dispute had come to a head when Rush was hospitalized after a near-fatal heart attack. The resulting compromise was that the producer’s shortened version would play in theaters, while Rush’s longer director’s cut would be the one released on home video. Needless to say, the movie was brutalized by the critics when it hit theaters, but did considerably better on video, where freeze-frames and rewind buttons were able to take full advantage of the movie’s gratuitous (but then-infamous) sex scenes.  

Kino Lorber Studios Classics’ Blu-ray release of Color of Night includes two discs, each featuring one of these two cuts of the movie. The theatrical cut runs 122 minutes, while the director’s cut stretches out to 140; the latter isn’t necessarily a better or worse version of the movie, just a longer one. Rush’s cut is edited together more dramatically, but the extra scenes mostly detail side characters whom most viewers will have ruled out of suspicion well before where the additional scenes were inserted into the movie’s runtime. We’ll lean in favor of the theatrical cut which, while silly and moderately entertainingly, was long enough already. Extra features include enlightening commentaries from Rush and screenwriter Matthew Chapman.

(www.kinolorber.com/product/color-of-night-1994-2-disc-special-edition-blu-ray)




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Warner
September 3rd 2018
11:40am

Thanks for full review of color of night edition. Also play the game of First Touch Soccer 2019 Game(https://fts19apkdownload.com/) and enjoy your free time.