Deadfall (1993) (part 3 of 6)

They pull up to an apartment complex to pick up Eddie’s girlfriend, and then we get more unintentional humor when Eddie gets out and we see Cage’s attire for this scene. Seriously, if wearing a black pinstripe shirt with a white jacket and a puke green bowtie was ever in fashion, I hope to god it never comes back in style.

Deadfall (1993) (part 3 of 6)

Also as hysterical are the constant hand and arm motions Cage makes throughout the scene. Seriously, every gesture he makes just screams out, “I’m showing off for my brother, the director, and there’s not a goddamn thing anyone can do about it, man!” Come to think of it, the same can be said for his entire performance here.

Eddie’s girlfriend is Diane, played by Sarah Trigger, who’s probably the only performer in this movie with a speaking part who’s not that well known. Diane is immediately taken with Joe, as anyone would be if their only other option was a greasy, crazed Nicolas Cage.

Deadfall (1993) (part 3 of 6)

After making a rather odd show of presenting Diane with flowers (I never knew you could overdo fake bashfulness and mumbling, but there you go), they get in the car, with the flowers being unceremoniously tossed into the back seat.

Eddie suggests they have some “fun time family fun” by running a scam. What follows is the first of several bizarre tantrums from Cage, when his car stalls a bit before finally starting. But the best part is how the tantrum interrupts Joe in mid-narration as he tells us shit we already know.

Joe: [in voiceover] It looked like I had to pay my dues by wilding with Uncle Lou’s flunkies.
Eddie: [screaming like a deranged lunatic] Fuck, this fucker’s fucked!
Joe: [in voiceover] Well, at least he was a lively fellow.

Eddie finally gets the car started (complete with a huge “winding it up” arm motion), and they drive off. Jesus, Cage is both horrible and brilliant in this movie! You can find just his scenes on the web, but I think you really need to see this stuff in the context of the film. Out of context, it’s hilarious, but in context, it’s just mind blowing.

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We cut abruptly to a bar, as the bartender (Talia Shire) takes Eddie’s order. Eddie asks for a bottle of champagne (complete with Cage doing the prerequisite faux French accent), but of course, given that they’re in Santa Monica, it’s strictly shots and beer in this place.

Caption contributed by Ed

“Just keep smiling, remember they’re your nephews. Don’t notice that one of them is hamming it up so bad that devout Muslims won’t be able to watch the movie…”

While Eddie and Diane are doing their thing, Joe is narrating about how much of an amateur putz Eddie is. After the bartender notices Diane’s bracelet, Diane goes off to a phone booth, while Eddie counts out money.

Diane reenters, and she and Eddie ask the bartender to keep an eye out for the bracelet that Diane supposedly “lost”. I have to say, I’m fairly sure this con only works when you’ve been away from the bar for more than a few seconds. Unless, of course, the bartender happens to be mentally challenged.

Deadfall (1993) (part 3 of 6)

Cage overacts shamelessly, and then promises the bartender a reward of $500 if she finds the bracelet. Sure enough, as soon as they leave, Joe comes out of the phone booth with the bracelet, and takes $200 from the bartender in exchange for it. She calls the phone number Cage gave her, and of course, the number has been disconnected, and she’s out $200.

Yeah, that was worth getting Talia Shire. Actually, I’m not being sarcastic here. She’s not the worst actress out there, but she sure ain’t Meryl Steep.

Later, our trio stops off at a liquor store, where Eddie wants to get some gum. Joe sits around while the couple engages in major PDA, and then Eddie goes into the store after telling Diane, “Mommy, mommy. We’ll go home soon, Mommy, we’ll go home soon!”

While Eddie’s in the store (no doubt making an ass of himself in the most insanely hilarious way possible), Joe and Diane talk. Their dialogue is… Well, it’s not good, and the chemistry between the two actors… Well, it’s just not there.

Deadfall (1993) (part 3 of 6)

Across from the car, Eddie is talking on a payphone (probably with Lou) about Joe, and now I can see Eddie’s shirt is actually green rather than black. Still doesn’t make the suit any less repulsive, but I’m a stickler for details.

Caption contributed by Ed

“Yeah, we need to get a new costume designer on this film. I’m coked to the gills and even I think this outfit looks like crap!”

Cut to later, as Joe and Eddie enter a strip club. After downing half a Budweiser in one chug, Eddie lets Joe in on the job they’re here to do. Seems a fellow known as “The Baby” is behind on payments to Lou’s bookie operation, and Joe’s job is to get the $1500 owed. There’s some rather unintelligible gibberish from Eddie (which you should be used to by now), and he walks off, leaving Joe to do the work.

I have to say, I love how Biehn reacts to Cage in these scenes. It’s half in character, as one would expect from a Method actor, and half a pro trying like hell not to bust up on account of his scene partner devouring the entire set. Seriously, I’m fairly certain Cage chews the equivalent of three soundstages in this movie.

Joe approaches the Baby (Ron Taylor), and since irony must be employed heavily in these sorts of movies, he’s an enormous black man. Just another little nugget of trivia: one of the girls with the Baby is Renee Estevez, Charlie Sheen’s sister. Maybe the title of this movie should have been Nepotism Rocks! Renee does pretty much jack shit here, outside of giving the big guy a lollipop. I guess if you really want to see her, rent Sleepaway Camp 2.

Caption contributed by Ed

“Do me a favor, man, when Sheen shows up in the film, tell him I fucked his sister. Okay?”

As the two men begin to talk, we cut to outside for more of Eddie and Diane. It soon becomes clear that Eddie is trying to get Joe killed here. Eddie snorts some sort of drug and starts giggling madly, and I’m assuming this is part of the movie and not just bonus footage of Nicolas Cage between takes. Actually, given the way he plays the role, it’s entirely possible both are true.

Deadfall (1993) (part 3 of 6)

Eddie’s plan is foiled when Joe exits the club with the Baby, apparently on good terms with the man. Joe cockily tells Eddie he’ll give the money to Lou rather than have Eddie do it, and Eddie is distinctly unimpressed.

Later, Joe is dropped off at his motel, and the guy with the huge fake beard is still keeping tabs on him. In a rather awkward bit of editing, we next find Joe breaking into Lou’s office.

In lieu of building tension, we get more narration, and it’s all essentially just blathering. This was a bad choice, because generally in this sort of movie, the narration is supposed to advance the plot, not simply give the audience info they don’t need. Here, we just get Michael Biehn babbling on endlessly in a bored yet oddly cheerful manner about how Lou is a pro who has something big in the works.

Joe opens Lou’s desk and finds a folder with a one-way plane ticket to Tahiti. He also finds another copy of the photo that was in the satchel, only this time, Lou is in the photo, too. According to the narration, the photo in the bag was ripped, which it was, but in that scene the editor cut away too quickly to the guy with the fake beard, and Joe’s narration distracted us from looking at the photo. Yet another reason why endless narration is a bad idea.

Making this even more terrible is that the photo is pretty blatantly the woman from the gravesite, stuck between two badly composited stills of a young James Coburn. It’s pretty awful, to say nothing of pretty damn funny.

Caption contributed by Ed

Somehow, I think this photo has been doctored. Just a hunch.

So, it seems Joe actually saw the ghost of his own mother, who came between the two brothers in some way in the past. Gee, you don’t suppose the photo will become important later, do you?

Joe narrates that the photo will indeed play a part later, and he heads back to his motel room. He enters, and Diane is there, waiting for him in the dark. They talk, and it turns out Joe has a heart-shaped locket with a picture of his mother in it, which is… sort of creepy. Even creepier is how when Diane asks about it, he tells her it’s a picture of an old girlfriend.

Deadfall (1993) (part 3 of 6)

They have some dull dialogue, which is interrupted when Diane suddenly walks forward and kisses Joe deeply. She tries seducing him, but Joe isn’t buying it. She apologizes, and after asking Joe not to tell Eddie about this attempted seduction, we get more chemistry-free dialogue. Frankly, you can fast forward through this part and not miss much. Eventually, Joe initiates his own seduction, and they end up having sex.

At this point I have to ask, is Joe supposed to be such a nitwit? Seriously, he knows the woman is a pretty damn good con artist, and yet he falls for her sob story anyway. I can live with the noir hero possibly being duped, because that’s just the nature of the genre, but when the writing is as transparent as it is here… Jesus.

Ed Harris

A fan of less than great cinema since childhood, Ed divides his time between writing scripts, working an actual paying job and subjecting himself willingly to some of the worst films society has produced.

Multi-Part Article: Deadfall (1993)

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