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Catchfire

A quirky comedy-thriller about a hitman who falls for his femme target, scrambled pic [story by Rachel Kronstadt Mann] has an LA artiste (Jodie Foster) accidentally witnessing a mob killing when her car breaks down one night. The cops (Fred Ward, Sy Richardson) want her to talk, and the hoods (Joe Pesci, Dean Stockwell, Vincent Price) want her dead. So she dons a blond wig and an alias and goes AWOL.

With:
Dennis Hopper Jodie Foster Dean Stockwell Vincent Price Fred Ward Joe Pesci

A quirky comedy-thriller about a hitman who falls for his femme target, scrambled pic [story by Rachel Kronstadt Mann] has an LA artiste (Jodie Foster) accidentally witnessing a mob killing when her car breaks down one night. The cops (Fred Ward, Sy Richardson) want her to talk, and the hoods (Joe Pesci, Dean Stockwell, Vincent Price) want her dead. So she dons a blond wig and an alias and goes AWOL.

Meanwhile, Pesci hires a top-league hitman (Dennis Hopper) to do the job his own goons can’t, and after months of tracking her around the States finally runs her aground in an ad agency.

Hopper ‘kidnaps’ his quarry, possesses her for himself, and the dynamic duo set of on a weird road-movie-to-nowhere, with the mob and the law in hot pursuit.

Somewhere in here is a dark, sassy picture, but final product is more like a jigsaw with half the pieces. Pic was lensed in LA, Seattle and Taos, NM, in summer 1988 under Hopper’s direction and the title Backtrack. After postproduction squabbles (reportedly over Hopper’s three-hour cut), he opted for the Director’s Guild of America moniker ‘Alan Smithee’.

Apart from Foster, who’s strong, shrewd and sexy, thesping is vaudeville all the way. Pesci rants and raves, Stockwell shows a nice line in low-key comedy, Ward looks like he hasn’t been shown the whole script, and Hopper has a go at Humphrey Bogart in shades.

Catchfire

Production: Vestron/Precision. Director Alan Smithee [= Dennis Hopper]; Producer Dick Clark, Dan Paulson; Screenplay Rachel Kronstadt Mann, Ann Louise Bardach; Camera Ed Lachman; Editor David Rawlins; Music Curt Sobel;; Art Director Ron Foreman

Crew: (Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1991. Running time: 98 MIN.

With: Dennis Hopper Jodie Foster Dean Stockwell Vincent Price Fred Ward Joe Pesci

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