The wonderful Charles Williford wrote four books about Hoke Mosely, a sometimes inept cop, and then died. After seeing this one, I had hoped there might be more, but so far there hasn’t been. Damn! They would be worth making for the titles alone: New Hope for the Dead, Sideswipe, and The Way We Die Now. Are those great titles, or what?
In this one an engaging psychopath, Junior Frenger, played perfectly by Alec Baldwin, comes to town and, right in the airport, accidentally kills a Hare Krishna … and he doesn’t even know it! He merely grabs the orange-robed proselytizer by a finger and bends it back until it breaks. But the fucker dies of a heart attack! Hoke gets the case, and soon has lost his badge, his gun, and his false teeth to Junior. The killer then goes on a hilarious spree, using Hoke’s badge to rob a lot of other robbers.
This is a story that never goes where you might expect it, not once. It is wonderfully quirky. I’ve seen it probably four or five times, and it never gets old. Fred Ward is terrific as Hoke, spending most of the movie with all his upper front teeth missing. And Jennifer Jason Leigh has what I think is her best performance ever as a sweet little prostitute who hooks up with Junior and sticks by him almost to the bitter end. You must see this one.