RARA-AVIS: The films based on Charles Williams

From: Channing Kapin ( filmtroll@sbcglobal.net)
Date: 11 Sep 2006

The movie "The Hot Spot" was pretty true to the book. All of the plot details and key scenes were found in the book, to the best of my memory.
 I don't recall the movie coming out in the theater, but I'd have to say it's a pretty good neo-noir thriller and unfairly maligned. Virginia Madsen is terrific as the manipulating femme fatale, and it's unfortunate that she wallowed in B-movie-dom for years and only now is beginning to get some recognition for her talents. Don Johnson was still trying hard to be a good actor at that point in his career (1990) and is perfectly cast as the classic noir anti-hero who thinks he's much smarter than he really is, and is too stupid and egotistical to see the walls closing in. Also the movie was directed by Dennis Hopper, yes THAT Dennis Hopper, who understands his Texas milieu and is really good at wallowing in the sleazy world but also handles the humor and irony of the book well. I heartily recommend "Hot Spot" to any noir movie fans.
 I'm sure it's been discussed here before but "Dead Calm" is also an amazing Charles Williams adaptation. The movie is essentially a three character drama and Director Philip Noyce ratchets up the tension. A genuinely creepy thriller with excellent performances by a young Nicole Kidman and Billy Zane... yes Billy Zane can act... who knew?

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