Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 1989. American Playhouse Theatrical Films. Screenplay by Howard Brookner, Colman deKay, based on short stories by Damon Runyon. Cinematography by Elliot Davis. Produced by Howard Brookner. Music by Jonathan Sheffer. Production Design by Linda Conaway-Parsloe. Costume Design by Abigail Murray, Beatrix Aruna Pasztor. Film Editing by Camilla Toniolo.
Four Damon Runyan stories are strung haphazardly together in this low-budget period comedy. Gangsters and goons, nightclub singers and ingenues all run amok trying to figure out life and love, and while the film has no momentous impact to speak of it does have its moments. The film’s plotting is so random that when two reels were mixed up during a presentation in a New York City theatre, the narrative went completely uninterrupted and audiences didn’t notice a thing! Madonna is a surprise standout as a sexy chanteuse who just wants to retire to the country and raise chickens with her sweet lover Randy Quaid. She and Jennifer Grey have the film’s best scene singing a terrific duet together, plus the pop singer does a marvelous dance number where she gets unwrapped out of mummy bandages. Sadly, the film’s director Howard Brookner died of AIDS before post-production could be finished and final editing was left to the crew. The film received almost no distribution in theatres but found new life on PBS where it played to strong ratings.