Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 24, 2016


Don Johnson and Rebecca De Mornay
GUILTY AS SIN (1993). Director: Sidney Lumet.

"He chose me to defend him before he murdered his wife."

Rising attorney Jennifer Haines (Rebecca De Mornay) takes on a client who is handsome if immoral, a gigolo named David Greenhill (Don Johnson) who has been accused of pushing his wealthy wife out of a window. Jennifer takes Greenhill's case against her better judgment, regrets it, tries to back out, but is told by a judge (Dana Ivey) that dropping pro bono cases is a no no. Meanwhile her friend and investigator Moe Plimpton (Jack Warner) discovers some disturbing things about her client, who seems to have been obsessed with Jennifer for quite some time. Then Jennifer's boyfriend, Phil (Stephen Lang), is brutally attacked, and worse things are in store for other of Jennifer's associates. Guilty as Sin is an entertaining, if far-fetched, thriller with good performances -- Johnson and De Mornay, make a good team, if that's what it can be called -- although Larry Cohen's screenplay has Jennifer doing things that she seems too smart to do. Norma Dell'Agnese makes her mark as Jennifer's secretary, Emily, as do Christina Grace and Barbara Eve Harris as two of David's "admirers." Stephen Lang [Save Me] is fine as Phil, and gets the bedroom scenes that, oddly, they never give Johnson, who was considered a sex symbol (along with De Mornay) at the time. Don Johnson [The Hot Spot] is quite good and exhibits star appeal, but never quite made it as a major movie star; he's now back on television in Oil. De Mornay's [The Trip to Bountiful] career is also more low-profile these days, with much television work as well. As for director Sidney Lumet [Child's Play], this is a minor work in his canon. A death-by-fire scene is one of the liveliest in the movie.

Verdict: Improbable at times, but well-acted and engaging. ***.


angelman66 said...

I have a soft spot for this film, Bill, although as you say, it is not's the last gasp of those stylish, well-made thrillers of the 80s including Suspect and Jagged Edge, that seemed to go out of style in the mid '90s. They always had a satisfying twist at the end, although by this time, people like you and me knew what that twist would be because they became so formulaic.

This is the only Don Johnson movie I can stand. He is sooo good-looking but most of his films are not my cup of tea. I enjoy his performance in this one. And I have always liked Rebecca de Mornay, too, she plays very small bit roles these days, what a shame.

Now I must see this one again, thanks to you!

William said...

It is definitely worth watching again; I've seen it twice. I agree that I don't especially care for most of Johnson's film choices. He was primed for major stardom but I guess he was seen primarily as a TV personality, and movies like this one didn't do too well at the box office.

de Mornay is only one of a long list of once high-profile actors who get older or appear in too many bombs in a row. Anybody remember Demi Moore? Demi who?