Deadfall (1993) (part 6 of 6)

Suddenly, we cut to a dark room, where Joe is meeting a man wearing Dr. Evil’s suit, who also has a huge pair of golden garden shears for a right arm. Goddamn, movie, you gotta warn a dude before laying some shit like this on him!

Caption contributed by Ed

Holy shit!

This is Dr. Lyme, played by Angus Scrimm from the Phantasm films. Yes, we are deep into the weird here, folks, as it would seem that based on his line readings, Scrimm is still playing his Tall Man character. Just watch those films, then this one, and tell me I’m wrong.

As to why the man has a mechanical arm with golden garden shears? Hell if I know. I’m still trying to figure out if Charlie Sheen was supposed to be Satan, and just what the hell Nicolas Cage was on during his scenes, man. My brain can only take so much!

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Adding to the weirdness is the stuffed and mounted tiger head on the wall. Maybe Lyme stopped by Brad Wesley’s place at one point.

Deadfall (1993) (part 6 of 6)

They chat, and I’d love to tell you what happens here, but I keep expecting Scrimm to end a sentence by growling, “Boyyyyyy!” Followed by a silver sphere drilling its way into Michael Biehn’s head.

Actually, I might not be too far off the mark, because when Joe introduces himself as “Joe Thompson”, we see a giant gold ball right next to him.

Deadfall (1993) (part 6 of 6)

Joe shows Dr. Lyme the diamond, and tells him there are 29 more where this one came from. Joe talks him into doing a deal with a Texan he knows, and there’s a rather amusing/odd handshake bit. Needless to say, Joe shakes the shears, and is cautioned by Lyme in a manner that makes me wonder if Scrimm got confused for a moment and thought he was indeed doing another Phantasm movie. Like I said, this film gets wonderfully weird at times.

Caption contributed by Ed

Hey, it could be worse. He could have one of those really moist handshakes that makes you wonder if the guy is ill.

Cut to later, where Joe and Diane are planning their getaway after the con. They kiss, and some more laconic dialogue ensues, while Joe gets ready for the job. He tells Diane he’s falling in love with her, and given the genre we’re in, I don’t see this ending well. Do you?

After a rather pointless scene outside Lou’s office, where one of Lou’s guys tells Joe that the cashier from earlier has the hots for him, but she’s off-limits, we go to the con. Joe and Lou are here, along with Lou’s men, who consist of that guy from the diner we saw earlier who loves the cashier (his name is Patsy), Clarence Williams III, and some other guy. They’re all getting ready and loading guns. The narration comes back for no reason, and you can pretty much guess what it tells us at this point, I hope.

Caption contributed by Ed

Donan’s Five!

And then the director gets around the inherent problems in a group scene by just having the camera rotate around as it films the actors. The technique is clichéd as hell, but it gets the job done, so I can’t really complain.

Caption contributed by Ed

Nothing to say here, just wanted to prove to you that Clarence Williams III is really in the movie.

They drive to the meeting place, and Joe is still narrating away. You know, I don’t even want to bitch about the voiceover anymore. Let’s just get things over and done with.

Lyme fans himself with some money, all the while yammering on and acting more like the Tall Man than any kind of diamond merchant, legit or otherwise. God, this is the most retarded sort of brilliance I’ve ever seen.

Caption contributed by Ed

“This ought to be enough to get me to the Met.”

I also dig the reactions of Lyme’s men to him; it’s pretty clearly the actors are trying like hell not to bust out laughing.

Caption contributed by Ed

The prick on the left is snickering, isn’t he?

Lyme mentions that if anything were to go wrong, it would be on account of his desire for things to go wrong. And then, finally, the meeting goes down in what looks like a greenhouse.

The con goes pretty much the way it went in the beginning, except there’s a little more manufactured tension to draw things out, and Lyme surreptitiously tells his men to kill everyone if something goes wrong.

Deadfall (1993) (part 6 of 6)

Joe gets to the part where he has to shoot Lou, but hesitates. So Lyme’s men beat him to it, shooting Lou dead, and causing a big (by low budget standards, at least) shootout between Lyme’s men and Lou’s crew. The narration comes back as Joe grabs the money and runs for it.

Caption contributed by Ed

“Wait, where are you going? I was going to make espresso!”

Yep, that’s the end of this little plotline. We don’t find out if Lyme survived (given that he’s actually the Tall Man, I’d say he probably does), but to tell the truth, there are more important things to cover, like the stupendously silly third act twist.

Joe runs for a bit, before stopping at a lamppost. He sees the woman in black from the gravesite, the one that looks like his mother. She runs off, and sure enough, when he catches up to her at that damned carousel, it turns out to be… Old Man Withers from the docks!

No, no, of course it turns out to be Diane. And you know what? This is nowhere near the shock the filmmakers think it is. First off, if you look carefully enough, the woman in the photo is pretty clearly Sarah Trigger. Second, the artificial shots of Coburn in the photo are also a pretty big clue, though not one the film intended, I’m sure. Thirdly, it has to be her, if for no other reason than the Law of Economy of Characters. She has no reason to be in the movie except for this big revelation.

Deadfall (1993) (part 6 of 6)

Yet another twist comes when Mike’s whole crew shows up, including Pete. Turns out Diane has been part of a con, with Mike’s crew doing the setup. In addition, from out of the shadows steps… a very much alive Mike! Shocked? No? Good, you learn fast, grasshopper.

Caption contributed by Ed

“Sorry I took so long, I had to go back to the tar pits for a touch up.”

Yes, Mike faked his own death, and yes, Joe is appropriately shocked. Pete takes the money, which Mike refers to as “the cake”, and gives some of it to Pete and the other guy (Frank). Joe is shattered, and Diane tearfully and reluctantly takes her cut before leaving.

I guess this means the guy with the fake beard worked for Mike, though he could have been completely erased from the film without affecting the plot at all. Though, the insanity level would have taken a hit, given we’d be missing out on a great Nicolas Cage freak-out moment!

As for the plot twist, it’s both amazingly predictable and also completely ludicrous. It pretty much depends on Joe being enough of a dope to not recognize a woman, even though he’s seen two photos of her, and has been very close to the woman who’s impersonating her. It’s laughable.

The truth turns out to be that Mike set up Lou, and views him as just another mark. Joe pulls his gun and aims it at Mike, resulting in a rather flashy (yet lame) showdown on the carousel, which Joe has dutifully started up. Mike tries to talk to Joe, telling him how great the con was.

Caption contributed by Ed

“Don’t you ever mention Navy SEALS again! You know how long it took me to forget that film? At least Sheen drove it away with drugs!”

This fails miserably, and Mike tries shifting the blame onto Lou, but Joe is too disgusted by this point to care. Joe asks if his gun has blanks in it, and ends up shooting the suitcase open. He then walks off, leaving Mike alone with the money.

Deadfall (1993) (part 6 of 6)

Actually, I think the idea is that he shoots Mike, but the gun is loaded with blanks, and Mike just drops the case, but whatever.

Deadfall (1993) (part 6 of 6)

Joe gets another narration that actually feels like it belongs where it is, and the credits roll.

I’d be remiss in not mentioning the DVD. It’s a barebones affair, with a rather murky full frame transfer, and a trailer. But there’s also a very brief featurette on the making of the film. Running about five minutes, it’s quite slim and superficial, but there are some gems to be found in it.

With the main focus being on the Coppola connection, we hear mostly from Cage, his brother Christopher, and Talia Shire. But Biehn, Trigger, Williams, Fonda, and Coburn pop in briefly as well. My favorite bit is when Cage reveals (to the surprise of nobody, I’m sure) that he approached his role with no sense of logic, but rather, he just did whatever came to him. Have to say it shows.

Deadfall (1993) (part 6 of 6)

There’s a bit of talk about the themes of the movie, but what I would have really loved to have had on the DVD is a commentary track with Cage and a few other folks. That would’ve been comedy gold.

In the end, this is one of the more deliriously fun bad movies I’ve ever seen. It’s a hilariously odd film noir that switches between predictable revelations and sheer weirdness. If you like bad movies, you need to seek out this film. You can probably find it pretty damn cheap no matter where you look. It’s really quite brilliant, in an incredibly stupid way.

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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  • Muh?

    In a sense this is Cage’s greatest performance. The movie isn’t very good and when Cage leaves it falters. Stuff like the mechanical arm is just too much. But Cage was right in the sweet spot, being absolutely insane and hilarious. I know people like Vampire’s Kiss but he tops it here.

  • Matt

    Was that Micky Dolenz?