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March 27, 2016

Movie Review: Black Widow (1987, Blu-ray)

“Mr. Shin, I'll tell you two things about me: I'm very rich. And I'm very wealthy.”

It has been years since I’ve watched this movie. And, if memory serves, it’s a fantastic thriller filled with tons of acting talent. Let’s see if it still holds true nearly 30 years later.

Released in October, 2015 by Twilight Time, Black Widow stars Catherine (Theresa Russell), a gorgeous sociopath who marries rich men then murders them for the inheritance. As she flits from man to man across the country, changing her name, appearance, accent, and general demeanor to fit each new conquest, Alexandra (Debra Winger), a federal investigator, has been studying the ‘natural’ deaths of all these different men and has discovered a connection - they married the same woman.

But how can Alex stop her when the local police don’t believe her theory, her own boss thinks she needs to go on more dates instead of working so hard, and the relatives of the dead men don’t want to pursue it because they think it’s all poppycock?

She tracks down Catherine herself, insinuates herself into Catherine’s life to get close, and hopefully can end the murderess’ life of crime before another innocent man ends up dead. The only problem - Catherine is highly intelligent and organized so Alex has to stay on her toes to not end up on the wrong end of Catherine’s rage.

I invented Resting Bitch Face. Don't waste my time.

Yes, this movie is just as awesome as it was back in the 80s. Don’t pay attention to the shitty fashion or the old fashioned misogyny from which most of the male characters suffer (a WOMAN can’t be a serial killer - that’s unheard of!). The base story, the actual tale of murder, cat and mouse, good vs. evil, could take place anytime or anywhere. 

Theresa Russell is so good in this role. She plays the loving wife beautifully all while she’s injecting poison into a bottle of champagne or mixing drugs into toothpaste. I love the character of Catherine for her smarts. When she finds a target, she researches the SHIT out of everything that can give her a connection in real life. She becomes each man’s idea of the perfect woman. She’s like a sociopathic chameleon. It’s brilliant. And when you see Alex is catching up to her or Catherine feels cornered in any way, the anger and hatred boiling just below the skin erupts for a moment and we see her for who she truly is.

Debra Winger….what can I say? I LOVE HER. I’ve loved her in everything I’ve ever seen (from Urban Cowboy to Terms of Endearment to Leap of Faith). Her character is strong and smart, two abilities that piss off the male-centric world of the FBI, and the police, and basically all other aspects of life. But her willingness to put herself in danger to stop a killer speaks volumes of her capabilities as a government agent and a human being.

You mad, bro?

Did I say I just love her? Because I do.

And let’s not forget to mention all the other acting talent in this flick: Terry O’Quinn, Dennis Hopper, Diane Ladd, Nicol Williamson, James Hong…just to name a few. Go to IMDB to look up the rest of the cast. Really, it’s amazing!

I think every character is believable, even if a few are convenient. But everyone fits in the entire puzzle of the story. You remove one and the cohesion crumbles.

The direction, editing, sound, and music flowed perfectly well. The writing is great - the story is an awesome thrill ride. The fact that the two main characters are women and the men around them are at their mercy (either in smarts or, literally, their lives) spoke volumes at a time when women were just beginning to be seen as capable of living well without the aid of a husband or father. I don’t want to get all soap boxy here but you can see my point, yes?

Great story, great acting and characters, great film. Stands the test of time and I imagine I’ll still enjoy it in another 30 years.

4 hatchets (out of 5)

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