Page 8 - The Michigan Daily -- Monday, September 23, 1985
Whodunnitfickabounds in hokiness
By Matthew Ben-Zeev
excruciatny satisfying nur-
der mystery? To be sure, it shol
lure you into a labrynthine web of fac-
ts, motives, and clues. Conflicting
evidence accentuates the chaos.
*Meanwhile, the unsinkable sleuth,
whether a seemingly awkward and
imperceptive Colombo or a dapper,
ultra-confident Holmes, conjures up
his trusty entropy-reduction skills and
calmly eeks out a sublime and
The truth manages to hit you upside
the head, evoking awe of the sleuth
and shame at your own utterly in-
ferior logic muscles. It doesn't matter
that you actually did not have a
prayer to fuse the puzzle pieces - you
still believe you did because .the sub-
tlety of the illusion is so-confounding.
Compromising Positions attempts to
join this genre, but it lacks the
The main problem is the film's
overwhelming hokiness. Whodunnit-
film techniques abound, particularly
some of the most overused and
cliched of the mystery-movie stan-
dbys - like the old "Amateur sleuth
pokes around at the scene of the crime
only to find silhouetted police detec-
tive ready to pounce"' routine.
Even cheesier than the film 's
methods are the characters them-
selves. Susan Sarandon plays Judith
Singer, the curious but naive
housewife compelled "to get to the
bottom of this once and for all." Raul
Julia is the hard-nosed detective tur-
ned to jello by the curious-but-naive
housewife. Surrounding the
protagonists are a bevy of other
stereotypes (the insensitive husband,
the gossipy friend, -the schlemiel
suspect) so caricatured as to be
Ifu thepretense of the film had been
tongue-in-cheek black comedy,
ridiculous situations and participants
would seem appropriate. In this case,
though, the silliness is just distrac-
ting, because Compromising
Positions wants to be a legitimate
thriller. Worse yet, it indulges in
tossing in a contrived and un-
believable theme about the quest of
suburban women to escape from their
mundane lives. Granted, housewives
can remain perpetually unfulfilled
because they are trapped by their
husbands and thieir lack of produc-
tivity, but how (as the film expects us
to believe) would they satisfy their
desperate longings through the fon-
dling hands of a tacky and unsubstan-
In another context, Sarandon's per-
j ournalism, and ther re general
point that "women need something
else" could have been more developed
and more believable. Here, the theme
merely detracts from a potentially
original and even slightly whimsical
plot. With more definition, a new twist
could have been added to the
traditional thriller, starring a bored
homemaker as our cop-foiling
Sherlock, utilizing a network of idle
gossips as her magnifying glass.
The point is that in a mystery story,
the audience is obliged to abandon
real logic and real common sense, but
they cannot be expected to participate
in the fantasy unless the characters
and the scenario come off 'as
Like so many of life's unsuccessfulE
ventures, Com promosing Positions
tries to be too many things at once.
The absurd personalities and 4im-
focused moral detract fromr the
ultimate aim of a whodunnit - to grab
you offguard and force you to
speculate who did it and why. Here we
don't even care, and little speculation
is needed anyway because the ciles
are explicit rather than implied.
In some ways, it is healthy to 2Ax-
perience a rotten detective movies in
order to appreciate the qualities o( a
truly good one. After all, not all
movies can be masterworks, and :s
Chuckles the Clown would say, "A 1t-
tie song, a little dance, a little seltzer
down your pants."
ACTVE MR1 J
Slow pace kills laughs
(Continued from Page4
faired better. With her speaking
voice, she was by far the more
professional of the two. Alter
probably would have been better with
a different co-star, Krueger being too
juvenile for her. What was most
lacking from the leads was that they
never developed a strong sense of at-
traction between Anne and Paul.
Without that, who cares if they sleep
together or not.
Director Cathy Foltin's biggest
chalrenge was to create interesting ac-
tion on a bare stage. There is not a lot
to lean on in an unfurnished apar-
tment. Though a good sense of Anne
and Paul's nervousness was created,
by the second scene the constant
movement was distracting and often
The supporting players performed
reasonably well - especially John
Palenick who plays Eddie, the low-life
superintendent and Diane Hall who
plays a cranky old lady in the apar-
tment neighboring the empty one.
The production was not terrible, but
with more energy and spontaneity to
make the comedy work it could have
been many times better. A comedy
without laughter is much worse than a
tragedy without tears. Too many
times an actor would say something
that was supposed to be funny, but
receive no laughs. The problem was
not Bob Randall's play, which despite
its lack of substance was a hit cn
Broadway, but the slow pace of the
actors and the production as a wholE.
With six performances left there's
no reason why Foltin and her cast
couldn't pick up the pace and make
some of those potential laughs work.
There's still hope.
6 Bins Rv Vu will run for the next
two weekends at the Ann Arbor Civic
Theatre; dates are September 26-28
and October 3-5. All performances
begin at 8 p.mr. Tickets are $5.
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black, S-M-L-XL, $80.
We welcome Jacobson's Charge Card or The American Express* Card.
Shop until 9 p.m. on Thursday and Friday
Until 6 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday
APTITUDE) .. .
Ask Peace Corps Moth volunteers
why their degrees are needed in
the classrooms of the world's de-
veloping nations. Ask them why
igenuity and flexibilit r re a
culture. They'll tell you their stu-
dents know Math is the key to a
solid future. And they'll tell you
that Peace Corps adds up to a
career experience full of rewards
and accomplishments. Ask them
why Peace Carps is the toughest
job you'll ever love.
Spotlight on the Emmys
Best Comedy Series - "The Cosby Show" (NBC) beat out "Cheers."
Best Actress in a Comedy - Jane Curtin of "Kate and Allie" won
for the second straight year.
Best Actor in a Comedy - Robert Guillaume won for "Benson'
Best Directing of a Comedy --."The Cosby Show" (NBC).
Best Writing of a Comedy - "The Cosby Show" (NBC).
Best Drama Series - "Cagney and Lacey" (CBS) won the shootout
with "Hill Street Blues" and "Miami Vice," both of NBC.
Best Directing in a Drama - "Cagney and Lacey" (CBS).
Best Writing of a Drama - "Cagney and Lacey" (CBS).
Best Actress in a Drama - Tyne Daly, who plays Lacey in
"Cagney and Lacey," won the award for the third straight year.
Best Actor in a Drama - William Daniels who plays Dr. Mark1
Craig on "St. Elsewhere" (NBC).
Best Supporting Actress in a Dramia -Betty Thomas of "Hill,
Street Blues" (NBC) won the show's only asyard.
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama - Edward James Olmos q9,
''Miami Vice'' (NBC) won the show's only award.
Best Music in a series - The pop music-soundtracked "Miami
Vice" came up short to the composing abilities of John Addison for'
"Murder, She Wrote."
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