13 February 2003 | petershelleyau
a private investigation
Sara Scott (Elizabeth Montgomery) is a Los Angeles private detective and wife of journalist Andy (David Haskell) who is murdered. Sara is hired by Helen Richman (Leigh Hamilton) to follow her husband James, and when James is killed, Sara discovers a link between the two deaths.
Montgomery is a brunette here and wears her hair on top of her head most of the time. The only memorable moment she has is her funny false hysteria as a decoy to planting a telephone bug where she is `a cross between Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce and Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford', though Montgomery undressing offering sex to a man who plans to killer her, and allowing her mouth to be photographed in extreme close-up, are noteworthy.
The teleplay by director Mike Hodges, based on the novel A Private Investigation by Karl Alexander, uses a Raymond Chandler-style narration, though Hodges doesn't have enough technique to delete prose phrases like `moreover'. The narrative is as labryinthine as The Big Sleep so the exhaustion factor sets in, particularly when aided by Hodges' directorial style. The only redeeming things are the occasional bon mots, which tellingly disappear about halfway in. `Tequila? It's a little early for me. It doesn't go with toothpaste', `He finished painting the office. Adolf Hitler couldn't have done it better', `She was a movie actress before going into politics. Soon we won't need political journalists, just film critics', and `Her bedroom looked like a set from The Desert Song'.
Hodges goes over the top with flashbacks in a rainstorm when Andy is shot, endlessly repeated, soundbites, whiplash editing, video graphics, low camera angles, an actor looking to the camera, and keyhole scene transitions, though the size of an elevated platform for politicians recalls the symbolic judges bench of John Ford's 1936 Mary of Scotland.