A pleasurably offbeat picture that manages the rare trick of being both charming and edgy, Mad Dog and Glory represents a refreshing, unexpected change of pace for all the major talents concerned.
Amusing premise – a poor schmoe saves a gangster’s life and is given a beautiful woman for a week as thanks – ends up taking on unexpected dramatic and romantic dimensions, and leads are played to the hilt by its stellar trio.
Bill Murray plays Frank Milo, a dapper hoodlum in the modern mode. Robert De Niro’s Wayne Dobie, ironically nicknamed ‘Mad Dog,’ is a retiring middle-aged loner who photographs crime scenes at night for the Chicago Police Dept.
Wayne has greatness thrust upon him when he interrupts an armed robbery in a convenience store and saves Milo from almost certain death. Club bartender Glory (Uma Thurman) turns up at his apartment and announces that she’s staying for a week, courtesy of Milo.
What follows could easily have been cute, contrived, exploitative, crude or any combination of same. Instead, scriptwriter Richard Price deepens his characters and, with the aid of the exceptional actors, the story takes on a resonance and emotional urgency that aren’t initially indicated. The key to the film lies in the intimate scenes involving Wayne and Glory.