×
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

  • Night Fury dragon Toothless and Hiccup

    Box Office: 'How to Train Your Dragon 3' Soaring to $50 Million-Plus Launch

    “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” is soaring toward a $53 million launch weekend at 4,259 North American locations, early estimates showed on Friday. That estimate is well above Universal’s forecast in the $40 million range at 4,259 sites — and ahead of its predecessors, 2010’s “How to Train Your Dragon,” which made [...]

  • Actors With Disabilities Deserve a Hollywood

    Dreaming of a Hollywood Ending for Actors With Disabilities (Guest Column)

    Picture a world in which an actor with a disability wins an Academy Award. Sadly, that storyline remains no more than a Hollywood fantasy. In recent years, the #OscarsSoWhite trending hashtag campaign has shed light on the lack of diversity in the movie industry. Yet ahead of this year’s Oscars on Feb. 24, society’s definition [...]

  • Clark Gable III

    Clark Gable's Grandson, Who Hosted 'Cheaters,' Found Dead at 30

    Clark Gable’s grandson, Clark Gable III, died on Friday morning at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Variety confirmed with the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office. He was 30. “It’s is with an extremely heavy heart we say goodbye to my beautiful son Clark,” his mother wrote on Instagram. “He passed this morning. I will always [...]

  • You Were Never Really Here If

    Film Independent's Spirit Awards Fly the Flag for Indie Film

    As the 2018 awards season marches slowly into its final days, only a handful of honors remain undistributed after some of the most volatile and contentious campaigns in years. Front-runners have come and gone in one major category after the next, as each guild and critics group announced different winners than its predecessors, demolishing expectations [...]

  • A Quiet Place

    John Krasinski Returning to Direct 'A Quiet Place' Sequel

    John Krasinski is returning to direct the untitled sequel to Paramount’s horror hit “A Quiet Place.” Krasinski revealed the news Friday via an Instagram post that said “…time to go back. #PartII 5-15-20”; the post showed the red lights that became synonymous with the alien threats in the first movie. More Reviews Album Review: Lil Pump's [...]

  • Red Carpet Guide to the Bowtie

    Five Tips to a Perfect Bow Tie on Oscar Night

    Warren Alfie Baker is always on the hunt for just the right bow tie. He’s a Hollywood stylist who helps keep such clients as Lucas Hedges, Norman Reedus and Harry Shum Jr. looking sharp. “It seems like the easiest thing to sort out, but so many mistakes can be made,” Baker tells Variety. More Reviews [...]

  • Francois Ozon's 'The Grace Of God'

    Francois Ozon's 'By The Grace Of God' Delivers Strong B.O. Opening in France

    Rolling off its triumph at the Berlin Film Festival where it won the Silver Bear, François Ozon’s Catholic church sexual abuse drama By “The Grace Of God” had a strong theatrical bow in France where it sold nearly 50,000 tickets on 290 screens on Feb. 20, its first day out One of the best opening [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content