TV Guide

From the online site, August 24, 2000


In June of 1999, Fox announced the start of production of the first in a series of film-noir TV-movies based on the 1940's and '50's "B" films from the 20th Century Fox library. Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye opens its "Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang" series.

"We're taking those characters and stories and reworking them with a modern perspective and Fox attitude," said network executive Marci Pool. Well, it may have looked good on paper and sounded good in the office, but off the results here, Fox may have good reason to kiss this series goodbye.

Film noir conjures up shadowy images of cynical, tough good guys, sultry femmes fatales, dark corners, sleazy settings and tense situations. There's little of that here. Hollywood does ok as the sleazy (if too sunshine-drenched) setting, but the femmes fatales, such as they are, are afterthoughts; the tense situations are not; and there is no good guy. The "victim" is about as big a sleaze as his victimizer. The film's credited inspiration is 1942's Moontide, about a dock worker who saves a waitress. Raise your hand if you remember it. Uh-huh.

Jason Priestley, the erstwhile Brandon Walsh on Beverly Hills 90210, directed this film and has a supporting role. I like Priestley, who appears to have Brandon-like qualities and is crafting a well-rounded career, having previously directed series episodes and music videos. But this is not a project fo his highlight reel. Priestley's directing is workmanlike at best, but there's nothing he can do with a story that just doesn't work. Nick Lea, infamous as "Ratboy" Krycek on The X-Files, stars as a has-it-all Hollywood executive named Dustin Yarma, who after heavy partying, wakes up on the beach near his evening's companion - who's dead.

Inconveniently nearby is a mangy drifter named Minnow, who claims he saw Dustin kill the girl in a drunken rage. Dustin accepts this at face value - the first of many unlikely plot twists - as well as Minnow's tit-for-tat offer. He'll do away with the body in exchange for... well, that 's not made precisely clear. But Dustin soon finds out as Minnow literally moves in on his life, going from mangy to manicured and introducing himself as Dustin's professional partner.

The lone high point of this exercise is Holt McCallany (Three Kings) as Minnow: smarmy, but smart, campily oozing charm and methodically turning Dustin's life inside out. Dustin desperately turns detective hoping to get something on his blackmailer and, of course, clues fall seemingly out of the sky. At the climax, Minnow's speech indicting Dustin's Hollywood ego is more amusing than it should be and things wrap up with an implausible surprise.

Remaking less celebrated (and little seen) "B" films isn't such a bad idea. But the execution here - give it a C- at best - definitely is.

Return to Main