RARA-AVIS: Re: don't killers know how to close doors?

From: JIM DOHERTY (jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 04 Aug 2009

  • Next message: Mark Sullivan: "RE: RARA-AVIS: Re: don't killers know how to close doors?"


    Re your question below:

    "I'm just watching last week's Dark Blue. Yet again, a cop knocks on the door and it creaks open just a bit. Of course, we all know this signals that there's a dead body inside. What the hell? Even if the door wasn't locked, it would not swing open at a knock (unless it had been kicked in, but there was no indication that the jamb was broken). So, anyone else got a cliche they're tired of?"

    How about this one:

    The hero, or the hero's partner, or the hero's best friend, or the hero's girl friend, or the special gust star on that week's episode who is an old friend, or an old girl friend, etc., etc. etc., has been egregiously victimized by the totally unsympathetic villain. At the end of the episode, the hero, or (fill in the blank) has disarmed and captured the villain and has him in his/her gunsights. S/he is slowly squeezing the trigger, and we're all about to experience the deliciousness of righteous come-uppance. Suddenly the hero (hero's best friend, etc., but a character who's different from the one holding the gun) enters and sees that the hero (hero's best friend, etc., the one who IS holding the gun) about to kill an unarmed man. What does the witness say to the gun holder in just about EVERY SINGLE CASE? Ah, come on, you know what the next line of dialog invariably is.

    "He's not worth it."

    Or occasionally, "Don't do it. He's not worth it."

    Boy, it's too bad lines of dialog can't get copyrighted, the way song lyrics can, 'cause that one would've earned whoever first coined it billions in royalties.

    And it's such a dumb line! For one thing, no matter how many times I've heard it, it's never been clear to me what the antecedent to "it" is supposed to be. Is "it" the act of shooting? Is "it" the consequences of shooting? Is "it" lowering oneself to the level of the bad guy? What the hell is "it?"

    A few times, I have to admit, I've seen interesting variations on this situation.

    In 7EVEN, one of the two cops simply blew the bad guy away, despite his partner's pleading with him not to. Classy! Didn't really like the film much, but that ending was refreshing.

    In a reunion TV-movie called RETURN TO THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO, Captain Mike Stone (Karl Malden, no longer a mere lieutenant) has the guy who killed his old partner, Inspector-turned-Professor Steve Keller (Michael Douglas in the series, though he makes no appearance in this film), and kidnapped his daughter under his gun. One of Mike's subordinates comes up next to him, takes out her gun, aims it at the same bad guy and says, "It's up to you, Mike. If you shoot, I'll shoot, too. We'll both kill him together, or we'll both do the right thing together." Stone, his conscience struck by having his subordinate's career in his hands, arrests the guy instead of killing him.

    In an episode of the Joseph Wambaugh anthology series, POLICE STORY, the lead cop in that week's episode sees his former partner, now a P.I. since he lost his arm, and his police career, in a long-ago shoot-out, about to kill the guy who cost him his arm. Faced with having to either shoot his old partner and dear friend and prevent the scumbag's murder, or let the murder proceed unimpeded save for ineffectual verbal pleading, the cop does what the book calls for him to do in such a situation. He actually shoots his old partner. Talk about moral fiber! I'm not sure even Joe Friday would have done that!

    Usually, though, what we get in that all-too-common situation is the same old "He's not worth it."




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