×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Bad City Blues

A blood-soaked and aggressively off-putting tale of a man's struggle for redemption and forgiveness, "Bad City Blues" forces the viewer to stew in some very unsavory juices far more than anyone will want to do.

With:
Eugene Grimes - Michael Massee Clarence Jefferson - Michael McGrady Callilou Carter - Judith Hoag Luther Logan - Jim Metzler Artie - Simon Billig Joe Gags - Earl Holliman Cleveland Carter - Dennis Hopper Dolores - Ruth Livier Mack - Scott MacDonald Mrs. Green - Virginia Capers Dutch - Bob Clendenin Harris - Armando Duran Parker - Ajgie Kirkland Tommy Robert P. Benedict kSweetbread - Ivory Ocean Marvin Green - David Jean Thomas

A blood-soaked and aggressively off-putting tale of a man’s struggle for redemption and forgiveness, “Bad City Blues” forces the viewer to stew in some very unsavory juices far more than anyone will want to do. Mostly well over the top yet possessed of a certain weight, first feature by Michael Stevens is clearly influenced by Scorsese, Welles and Huston, but is curiously most reminiscent of Michael Cimino in its brooding sensibility, overwrought violence and intense male interaction. Strenuously elaborated and essentially implausible investigation into the mysterious link between an immoral criminal and a Good Samaritan doctor has little commercial potential, although it features some intermittently forceful moments, an imposing performance by Michael McGrady and a sulfurous atmosphere that lingers in the mind.

Adapted by English writer Tim Willocks from his own 1991 novel, yarn intertwines four main story thrusts and several time frames that all spin off from a bloody bank robbery. Badly injured girlfriend Callilou (Judith Hoag) of the homicidal ringleader Luther (Jim Metzler) seeks help from Eugene Grimes (Michael Massee), a generous-spirited doctor who lives among the destitute in the worst part of New Orleans.

After killing Callilou’s banker husband (Dennis Hopper), staggeringly corrupt but charismatic Vice Squad Capt. Clarence Jefferson (McGrady) attempts to move in on the robbers by putting the squeeze on Eugene; pic’s middle section is mostly devoted to the cop’s on-and-off torture of a decent man who’s tormented by a twisted connection to Luther that is only eventually disclosed via Central American-set flashbacks.

Having been delayed far more than necessary by Eugene’s high-minded reluctance to “betray” the despicable Luther, pic’s strands come together when Eugene, Clarence and the hitherto unpaid robbery team all converge upon Luther’s hideout, but they quickly become unglued in a bloodbath that ridiculously sees more than one villain superhumanly rise from the dead after having been riddled with bullets.

Ending is freighted with moral considerations that speak to a possibly genuine regard for spiritually enlightened forgiveness — matters that only can be viewed with some skepticism given the gruesome wallow that characterizes most of the film.

Looking like a bulky William Hurt, the towering McGrady steals the picture with a portrait of self-justifying career corruption that unavoidably recalls Welles’ Hank Quinlan in “Touch of Evil.” Looking like two peas in a pod, Massee and Metzler are both arresting in a B movie sort of way.

Thanks in good measure to Zoran Popovic’s gleaming lensing of seedy locales and Ioannis Papadopoulos’ resourceful art direction, look is pro on this initial outing by the son of TV producer-longtime American Film Institute topper George Stevens Jr. and the grandson of the celebrated late director. Highly varied score and song selections make for over-busy but sometimes piercingly effective musical background.

Bad City Blues

Production: A Bad City Pictures presentation of a Michael Stevens production. (International sales: Bad City Pictures, Studio City, Calif.) Produced by Stevens, Tim Willocks. Executive producer, Tom Scott. Directed by Michael Stevens. Screenplay, Tim Willocks, based on his novel.

Crew: Camera (Technicolor), Zoran Popovic; editor, John Ganem; music, Mick Taylor, Max Middleton; music supervisor, Michael James Jackson; production designer, Ioannis Papadopoulos; art director, Mathias Fain; set decorator, Athena Xenidou; costume designer, Anastasia Sarris; sound (Dolby Digital), Giovanni Di Simone; associate producers, Simon Billig, Donald C. Young; assistant director, Maria L. Melograne; casting, Cathy Reinking. Reviewed at AFI/L.A. Film Festival (Special Presentations), Oct. 26, 1999. Running time: 116 MIN.

With: Eugene Grimes - Michael Massee Clarence Jefferson - Michael McGrady Callilou Carter - Judith Hoag Luther Logan - Jim Metzler Artie - Simon Billig Joe Gags - Earl Holliman Cleveland Carter - Dennis Hopper Dolores - Ruth Livier Mack - Scott MacDonald Mrs. Green - Virginia Capers Dutch - Bob Clendenin Harris - Armando Duran Parker - Ajgie Kirkland Tommy Robert P. Benedict kSweetbread - Ivory Ocean Marvin Green - David Jean Thomas

More Film

  • Mindy Kaling (L) and Director Nisha

    Women Directors and Writers Make Gains in Independent Films But Lag on Parity

    Women directors, writers, editors and producers are making inroads, reaching historic highs in the world of independent films — while still lagging in reaching parity with men, a new study shows. The latest Indie Women study, released Tuesday, found that women achieved record-setting levels as directors (33% in 2018-19, up from 29% in 2017-18), writers [...]

  • David Shin

    Disney Shuffles Management in Hong Kong, Australia

    Disney has reshuffled its management in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australasia following the March completion of its 21st Century Fox takeover. In Hong Kong and New Zealand, Fox executives have been elevated. In Australia and New Zealand, Disney’s management is staying on. David Shin has been appointed VP and GM of The Walt Disney Company [...]

  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - JUNE 17: Liu

    Shanghai: Chinese Movies Dominate AACTA Asian Film Award Nominations

    Chinese sci-fi hit “The Wandering Earth,” China’s Cannes competition film “Wild Goose Lake,” and Korea’s Palme d’Or-winning “Parasite” are among the nominees for the AACTA Award for best Asian film. The nominees were announced on the margins of the Shanghai International Film Festival. The winners will be announced Dec. 4 at the Australian Academy of [...]

  • Jenni Rivera Biopic

    Authorized Jenni Rivera Biopic in the Works

    An authorized biopic of the late singer Jenni Rivera is in the works, seven years after she died in a plane crash at the age of 43. The life rights deal was announced Tuesday with an agreement between Jenni Rivera Enterprises and producers Javier Chapa and Simon Wise of Mucho Mas Media and Donald De [...]

  • Judi Dench

    ‘Blithe Spirit’ With Judi Dench, Dan Stevens, Isla Fisher Scores International Sales

    Filming has started on “Blithe Spirit,” an adaptation of Noel Coward’s classic comedy about love that just won’t die. Judi Dench, Isla Fisher and Dan Stevens are among the cast in the picture, which is helmed by Edward Hall (“Downton Abbey”). Protagonist has closed a raft of pre-sales on the project, which was previously adapted [...]

  • Edward Cheng, Tencent Pictures CEO

    Tencent Pictures' Lineup Is a Mix of Hollywood Content and Chinese Propaganda

    A slate of Chinese propaganda films rubs shoulders with high-profile Hollywood movies on Tencent Pictures’ upcoming lineup.  The firm confirmed its investment in U.S. projects including TriStar Pictures’ “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” a film about beloved TV host Mr. Rogers, starring Tom Hanks; “Monster Hunter,” Paul W.S. Anderson’s next film adaptation of a [...]

  • Night scenery of the Bund in

    Shanghai: Festivals Grapple With How to Stay Relevant in the Digital Era

    Festival organizers from around the world Tuesday discussed the challenges of remaining relevant in a digital era at a Shanghai International Film Festival forum. The Festival do Rio’s executive director, Ilda Santiago, noted that online platforms are now an unavoidable part of the film business and creative process, and that “of course not all of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content