Roger Ebert taught me a simple movie rule to live by. "If it's Sphinx, it stinks!" This refers to the Hollywood Pictures logo of said sphinx. A sub division of Touchstone Pictures, which was owned by Disney so they could make rated R movies and give Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson something to do in the early 1990's.
I love Hollywood Pictures movies and I think I have seen every single one of them now. There was roughly 26 total. They ranged from freely adapted versions of THE SCARLET LETTER (complete with witchcraft and native Americans and nudity!) and the much beloved Dolly Parton vehicle, STRAIGHT TALK. It is a treasure trove of classic BadMovieArt films, but my favorite has got to be GUILTY AS SIN otherwise known as GUILTY AS SHIT!
I don't really know why I keep coming back to this movie. It is not good. In fact, it is quite boring. Billed as an erotic thriller, GUILTY AS SHIT is neither erotic nor thrilling, though it tries. There is something that keeps pulling me back into repeat viewings of this film. I have owned it at least three times. I keep losing it! It is like my soul is trying to will it out of my life, but my urge to watch it is too powerful. The interesting thing about GUILTY AS SHIT is that it is not a film I can start and turn off halfway through. It almost challenges you to finish it. Taunting you in its boring-ness. Daring you to stay for the final five minutes, which is pure gold, i tell ya!
The storyline isn't any we haven't seen before. Street smart/fresh out of night school/ball busting lawyer gets the case of a lifetime. If she can win this case, then she will get cred and be able to give a big FUCK YOU to all the males that have overrun the firm where she works. But is her client really innocent or.......let's all say it together....GUILTY AS SHIT?!!!
Sidney Lumet had the unfortunate job of trying to make something out of this film, which reeks of producers giving their two cents and conceited actors wanting to do their own thing. Very early into the film, it seems that Lumet just put up a stationary camera and went on long lunches and let the assholes fend for themselves. He has directed a ton of my favorite movies, like THE FUGITIVE KIND, NETWORK, THE WIZ and quite possibly the best movie EVER made, DOG DAY AFTERNOON. Every time I go to Bank of America or even worse Chase to pay my credit card bill, I just envision going all Dog Day Afternoon on their ass, when they ask me if I want to sit down with a rep and talk about opening a checking account. God, if Carol Kane only worked at the West Seattle branch of Chase, I totally would open a checking account there! Don't get me started on DDA.... I do love the use of real locations, filmed in and around Chicago (but looks like Vancouver B.C. for some reason) and tries to give it some true grit, but it ends up looking like dirt instead.
So if the director is checked out, then the film really needs to rely on a strong screenplay (penned by IT'S ALIVE and THE STUFF's genius Larry Cohen) and two extremely talented actors in the leads. Once again, unfortunately, the film has neither. The plot is just a recycling of films we have seen before, like JAGGED EDGE, SUSPECT and NUTS. When the acting in NUTS is better than your film you have a problem.
In the role of Jennifer Haines, lady lawyer extraordinaire, Rebecca De Mornay comes off as a completely insane person. She just stares at everyone with her "Peyton Flanders" eyes. She seems like she is going to viciously whisper in every one's ear, "I'll break your fucking arm!" at any moment. So when the film, takes a "twist" and the focus becomes of her being a victim of manipulation and seduction, you just don't buy it. She is too much of a bad ass. For god sake, SHE forces her late eighties Robert Reed looking BF( played by now super buff Stephen Lang from AVATAR) into giving HIM a blow job in the first nine minutes of the movie. She also eats Chinese food with him after they have sex. He is nude. It's uncomfortable. It's very UN-erotic and this is coming from someone who LOVES to eat Chinese take out after sex, but I usually don a pair of pants. I don't blame Rebecca though. She kicked around Hollywood forever taking shit second leads and having to show her tits in movies like RUNAWAY TRAIN and RISKY BUSINESS, before becoming a household name with her breakthrough film THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE. I fucking love THTRTC.
The REAL problem with GUILTY AS SHIT is her male counterpart, Mr. Don Johnson. Fucker of Melanie Griffith, Babs Streisand and allegedly D. Ross, his sexual prowess he exudes for more than a decade is gone. It is not to said that he is not sexy, but just not in this film. He is supposedly a male 'ho that marries unsightly and ungodly rich women and maybe murders them. The role calls from someone a touch younger. I am not an ageist, but it is impossible to buy his smooth talking ways without laughing out loud. I guess it was too early for the days of the cougars that we are use to now and it could also be that the early 90's were a rough time for men's fashion. Everything became bulkier. All of Johnson's suit look huge and ill fitting and his TAN is out of control! He is too tan! And I like the too tan look, but this is borderline burnt orange and looks like tan make-up, not the tanning bed look. Is Tan Face offense? Not to be overshadowed by De Mornay's Crazy act, he tops her. Every single moment he is on screen, he is acting like a crazy person! Someone call Whitfield STAT!!
The film has many lines like, "He's gorgeous" or "So handsome!" and other lines about how beautiful Johnson is. I swear he wrote the thing himself. And don't get me wrong, there was a time when I lusted after Don Johnson hardcore. It wasn't his douchey turn in Miami Vice, but the white hot sizzler of a mini-series of the late 80's, THE LONG HOT SUMMER! SIZZLE!!!
So there is suppose to be all the sexual tension between De Mornay and Johnson. I guess there is. I mean, she isn't getting eaten out while busting out lights in a dirty parking lot or dripping candle wax on his chest, but she does sharpen her ever growing collection of No. 2 pencils on her desk, while he talks to her. She also drinks a lot of coffee, but it's just acting, cuz you can see into the cup and there isn't anything there. OH! There is a super sexy scene of Don Johnson making a sandwich and waving a knife at her, while spreading tons of mayo all over the place. Well, RDM has had it and she tries to get the court to let her out of defending him, because he won't stop acting like a nut, but alas, she is stuck with him. As the cat and mouse games continue, she decides to "GET HIM BEFORE HE GETS ME!!"
This sets in motion a battle of the crazies. They keep one upping each other is very boring ways. When RDM finds clues that could lead to his conviction and blow her case, does she cover it up and use it to "GET HIM BEFORE HE GETS ME!!"? The trial lingers and Johnson charms the jury, so when they are out for a week and comeback with a hung jury, he is pleased. As the court empties out, they have another crazy off, with Don Johnson in the witness stand (he was sad he never got to take the stand during the case) and RDM grills him. All sexy of course. One of my favorite erotic thriller lines is uttered, " Killing with gloves on is like fucking with a rubber." TRUE. RDM's lip quiver and she is out the door. At this point, the viewer has been through it. And if you have made it this far, then you reward is MASSIVE!
RDM is once again, walking around alone and as she walks down the hallway of her high rise condo building, Johnson is lurking in the shadows. A fight ensues...and you get a good RDM stunt double, a real life RDM hanging over a ledge and a brain splatter er of an ending! CREDITS ROLL!!! It is such a fucking awesome ending, you realize why you sat through the whole thing to begin with!
GUILTY AS SHIT is not an easy film to muddle through and if you are faint of heart or get bored quickly, you shouldn't attempt it. But if you like a leisurely paced, un sexy erotic thriller, then I cannot think of a better film to waste an evening on!
Roger Ebert proves that GUILTY AS SHIT is the exception to his rule, because the movie poster boost TWO THUMBS UP! One of those thumbs was attached to Ebert.