Eternity (1989) (part 3 of 4)

The director yells cut, and James proudly tells Spinelli he was funny as a court jester. Spinelli was Edward’s jester in his previous life, but he doesn’t get a flashback, either. James asks Frankie Valli, “What would you say if I said I knew that girl in another lifetime, she was my wife?” Frankie takes it as a joke and cracks, “James, I always knew you had good taste!” James asks the same question of Eric who speaks for the audience when he says, “I’d say you’re full of shit!” Hah! Wilford Brimley just said “shit”!

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James wanders back to the dressing room, happening upon Valerie in her underwear. She screeches for him to close his eyes. He complies and has a flashback of walking in on his nanny giving Dahlia a bath. We get a quick butt shot from Davidson as the nanny leads Edward out of the room. Meanwhile, Valerie has scurried behind a short wall and asks James what he wants. He tells her she did a great job on the commercial, and Valerie hefts her first anvil as she asks if James would like to be her “Prince Charming.” It turns out she’s a finalist for a job on a TV show, and she’s been invited to a shindig at the producer’s house. James agrees to be her date, then he goes to Spinelli’s to pick up a suit.

Eternity (1989) (part 3 of 4)

“It’s the right thing to do, and a tasty way to do it. You lousy son of a bitch.”

At the House of Stallions, James once again trots out his reincarnation line and Spinelli says there’s something to the idea. He nonsensically says, “Look at Hoover, he came back as a vaccuum cleaner!” [??] He thinks James is spouting this stuff because of the problems with his business, but he’s sure everything will fall into place. Spinelli tells James to wait and see how many people remember him from a past life once he has some money, then pulls out a wad of cash to illustrate his point. This scene is blocked Sorkin-style, with the characters running around to keep the dialogue from bogging down the action. And all the while, a little old man with a tape measure has been trying to take James’ measurements. After running after him for a while, the old man finally throws down his tape measure in defeat. Komedy!

Later on, Valerie walks down the steps of her apartment and comes upon James, there to pick her up. He still has his white sneakers on, but is wearing a baggy tux and holding a single rose. She looks to be cooling rapidly on the whole deal as she gets into his dumpy white van. They make small talk and James tells her she’ll get this part. “You’re very good, you know.” Valerie demurs that she’s not worthy of such a compliment, but James believes that “maybe it’s time you started feeling worthy.” Valerie looks out the window and mentions that she’s feeling strange. James says that she might be starting to remember him from her past life, prompting Valerie’s uncomfortable smile to return.

At the mansion, the woman at the door can’t find Valerie’s name on her list. She’s British, so we know she’s evil. James introduces himself, and she instantly changes her tune, showering him with compliments. James points out Valerie’s name on the list and Valerie gives the List Lady a “go to hell” smile before heading inside.

Valerie and James explore the house, and he says it reminds him of “a castle”. They’re being observed by Shawn Wallace and Shawn’s underling with the hockey hair. Shawn disgustedly asks if that’s the James Harris who turned down his offer to buy out his show. Displaying the grace and stability that will define this character, he launches into a rant. “You find out who invited him and I’ll murder the son of a bitch. I spend all this money, and I don’t know any of the people at my own party!”

At the party, Valerie and James share a dance. The heel of her shoe breaks and Valerie starts to leave, saying she’s had it. James again behaves like her father, telling her to pretend that it’s all a play and sits her down at their table. He asks if she’d like a drink, in particular, Evian, and she says she wants a Johnny Walker Red. I don’t know about the latter, but this won’t be the last time Evian will make a conspicuous appearance.

James tries to cheer her up by taking off one of his own shoes and sliding over to the bar on his sock foot. Valerie wears the grim smile of many a starlet that says, if I have to schtupp this clown I better damn well get a series.

Anyway, James comes back, and Valerie shovels food in her mouth as James stares hard at Hockey Hair. He gets an uncomfortable flashback to the castle and it switches back and forth between the two places as Hockey Hair stands up and introduces Shawn Wallace to the crowd. At the castle, Romi stirs up trouble. The British List Lady is there, acting as one of his hos. She has the worst hair of the cast, sporting a wig that seems to be the result of an accident between Reba McEntire and a poodle. She sneers at Dahlia, asking who brought “that little animal”. Dahlia wipes her mouth with the back of her hand, and it’s worth noting her table manners haven’t much improved in the centuries since.

In the present, Valerie messily gnaws on a kabob as Shawn gives his speech. He thanks Hockey Hair for the very warm introduction and jokes that he wrote it. At the castle, Edward deals with Romi’s accusations. Romi tastefully tells the people gathered for dinner, “When the Turks have cut the children from their mothers’ wombs, who will come to your defense? Him? A man who brings beggars to the table?” Edward stands and says, “You can abuse my love for you, Romi, but you cannot destroy it!” That’s telling him!

In a cutaway to present, James gives Shawn the evil eye as he tells the crowd, “It’s very nice to be important. I think it’s more important to be nice!” That must be that “irony” thing I hear the kids talking about. He then completely contradicts himself in the next statement by crowing, “There’s no such thing as too much, and if you can’t get enough, shame on you!”

In the land of Ren Faire, Dahlia attempts to steal from a vendor and is whipped by Romi. He strikes at her from his, sigh, black horse. Edward defends her and tells Romi to let her be, arguing that “these poor souls have suffered enough!” Romi is angered at being made a fool of in front of the subjects, and he stalks off.

In the present, Shawn walks over to ask Valerie for a dance. She’s reluctant because of her shoes, but she eventually agrees. As they dance, Shawn bluntly says, “So, you’re beautiful.” He asks if she could “function in front of a camera.” James watches them with a worried look.

In flashback, Romi forces a kiss on Dahlia, who storms away. I’d like to know how James can flashback to events he didn’t even witness. In the present, Shawn wants Valerie to meet with him later so he can give her a screentest. He then tells her to “take care of your feet. You have a run in your stocking.” Valerie is embarrassed, but happily tells James that Shawn wants her to try out for a new show. James has a different opinion: “He wants you.” Valerie rightly suggests that he’s jealous. She tells him to be careful, because “I’m just starting to like you.” What caused that, I wonder? Was it his richly delusional fantasy life? Or his incredibly bland looks?

Valerie and James go for a walk in a glen that very much resembles Europe. Valerie is concerned about their relationship. She admits that sometimes James frightens her. James smiles and says that sometimes he may sound “a little nuts.” Well, since he made the first step of admitting his problem, I won’t take him to task for that “a little” part of his statement.

They end in an embrace. Hold on to your stomachs, folks. Soft-core love scene dead ahead. Valerie wonders just what it is that James does to her, and he begins to plaster her face with kisses. We segue back to the Kingdom of Cheesecloth Filter as Edward busts a move on Dahlia that is treasured by all Romeos, the Sexual Predator Tackle. They begin to make out, and we fade to Valerie riding James like a Suzuki. The nausea is eased by the music, which sounds like the corny love theme from Romeo and Juliet with a riff of the Delta Airlines music thrown in. You’re trying to stifle your giggles while a body double works her magic on a strangely motionless James. I guess Davidson had no problem with rear nudity, but the front was another matter. The synthesizer finishes its noodlings and James and Valerie cuddle.

Eternity (1989) (part 3 of 4)

Can we please see Joe Don Baker and Linda Evans getting it on instead?

There’s a shot of Shawn Wallace’s headquarters, a foreboding high rise that ends in a castle-like turret. I have a pleasing flashback to the Gargoyles cartoon series before I’m dragged back into these proceedings. We see Valerie walk up to receptionist to say that she’s here to see Shawn. Meanwhile, Shawn is having a pow-wow with the Governor. I really don’t think this particular subplot needs any more detail, so I’ll save you the trouble. Just remember “pipeline”, “Indian reservation”, “people are starting to talk”, and Shawn trotting out the inevitable “I made you so don’t you dare cross me!” line to the Governor.

Shawn’s next meeting is with Valerie. Here Shawn proves himself to be James’ match in the philosophical mumbo-jumbo department as he launches into a spiel about how modern man has lost touch with his warlike nature. He tosses out the highly suspect fact that “wives have assaulted their husbands more in the past decade then any time in the nation’s history!”

All this leads up to him revealing that he wants to produce an American Gladiator style show called Duel for Glory. He reaches an incoherent crescendo with a rant on nuclear weapons, saying “they’ve eradicated the entire mythological progression of the warrior!” To be fair, there is the kernel of an interesting idea in there, namely, that one could be opposed to weapons of mass destruction because they take away the need for a Warrior class. Or you could watch a movie based on a similar idea, Ghost Dog. Only, the idea is handled much better there. And I loves me some Forest Whitaker. Oh, right. This movie.

Eternity (1989) (part 3 of 4)

If you liked American Gladiators… Well, I did, too. Oh, by the way, there’s this other show on called Duel for Glory.

At his office, James is on the phone with an irate creditor. He tries to turn on the charm with less than stellar results. Things go even more poorly with Valerie when she shows up to tell him Shawn Wallace hired her for his new show. She gets angry because he can’t just be happy for her. His excuse is that he can’t be happy “when every inch of my soul senses danger!” I decide the strain of rolling my eyeballs all the way around isn’t worth it, and I simply examine the ceiling as Valerie begins her next line. She says that “it’s so easy to point your finger at people who are high in power and successful!” A good point, but naturally she’ll be proven wrong before the movie is done. James simply tells her to keep her eyes open. She spits out, “Have a nice day!” and leaves.

Next, James heads back down to the reservation with a camera crew, and he gets footage of machinery and a crew doing work on the Indian land. Taking a page from the Billy Jack School of Characterization, the crew consists entirely of Shady Guv’mint Sp00ks in white short sleeve shirts and mirrored sunglasses. James throws a few questions at them 60 Minutes-style, but as he is no Ed Wallace, they don’t answer. Then we cut to the Wise Elder® anointing James as a guardian of nature, but I’m too tired by this point to muster an eye roll, so I settle for a heavy sigh.

Meanwhile, Shawn Wallace briefly plots his takeover of James’ company. Then we cut to James watching Valerie’s new show, which is called Provocative Women. This week’s subject is a humorless looking martinet type. She runs some sort of military boot camp for delinquent children. As there is no brushstroke too wide for this movie, we see footage of kids of all ages tightly grasping rifles and looking ahead with cold dead stares.

Eternity (1989) (part 3 of 4)

Our enemies will cower in fear before… the Lewinsky Brigade!

The martinet singles out one boy for a demonstration. She blows her whistle and he begins viciously attacking a dummy. I guess we’re supposed to be gasping in horror at the evil that Shawn Wallace has wrought, but I’m too busy giggling that what the martinet needs is a little Rit Dye in her showerhead.

Next, James and Valerie meet for a tense lunch. He tries to talk her out of doing the Provocative Women show, and she defensively states, “You’re not my father!” No, just old enough to be her father, that’s all. She’s fed up with his patronizing attitude and leaves. Well, catharsis can’t come without losing your girl, right?

Eternity (1989) (part 3 of 4)

“Let each and every cell rejoice! For today we celebrate the first, glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directive!”

Over at the Highrise of Evil, Shawn Wallace excuses a board meeting. Then, while still in the conference room, he sets up a slide projector and cheesecake photos of Valerie posing in various items of lingerie appear on the screen [!]. Valerie enters, and we hear the silliest “seductive” sax music ever. Shawn then leads Valerie into this movie’s second most hilarious, scary sex scene.

He pushes her up against the screen, and she begrudgingly puts her arms around him. Images of Valerie in lingerie flash behind her as he groans with pleasure. The soundtrack then goes into bizarre scatting, sounding disturbingly like the sho do bo wop ba dow at the end of the Full House theme song. He finally finishes, turning away and muttering, “Well done…” She smoothes her skirt and makes a halfhearted goodbye. Shawn just stands there numb.

Eternity (1989) (part 3 of 4)

“I’ve never done it in a portfolio before!”

Hockey Hair then appears and snidely remarks that he should invite Valerie to the house this weekend. “That way you get to use her twice.” Ew. Shawn looks at him and “comically” says, “You’re so crude!” And I’m left sorting over the rather thorny sexual politics. Let’s see if I can figure this all out. Shawn is the villain, and he produces a show called “Provocative Women”. In his employment is the snobby List Lady at the party. All the women that are presented as “good” are in, or were in, submissive positions to James. And every time Valerie bucks James’ authority, she ends up exploited or hurt. Sure, the reincarnation thing is radical, but I guess we can’t be progressive in all our views, can we?

Jessica Ritchey

Born in Western North Carolina, Juniper was discovered in a filthy shack in the lovely Blue Ridge Mountains, speaking a made up language to a tattered rag doll, her only companion. Her social skills have improved little in the intervening years. She is currently making flailing efforts at being a freelance writer. One of history's supreme procrastinators she plans on writing a book about it someday.

Multi-Part Article: Eternity (1989)

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