Monday, September 02, 2013

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Sunday, April 10, 2005

Pauline Kael

“A few days after seeing the newly manufactured, disposable Legal Eagles, I noticed that Debra Winger's last picture to be released, Mike's Murder, was listed for Showtime in The New York Times TV schedule, and that the Times' advice was "Skip it." Please, don't skip it next time it comes around--or, if you can, rent it. I wasn't able to see this film during its unheralded, minuscule New York run in 1984, but I caught up with it on HBO last year . . . . [I]t has two superb performances--a full-scale starring one by Winger, and a brief intense one by Paul Winfield. She's a radiantly sane young bank teller who has an affair with . . . Mike (Mark Keyloun). She likes him--you can see her eagerness, even though she knows how to be cool and bantering with him….”

“Winger has thick, long, loose hair and a deep, sensual beauty in this movie. Bridges wrote the role for her after directing her in Urban Cowboy, and you feel the heroine's expanding awareness in Winger's scenes with Keyloun and her scenes with Winfield. It's a performance that suggests what Antonioni seemed to be trying to get from Jeanne Moreau in La Notte, only it really works with Winger--maybe because there's nothing sullen or closed about her. We feel the play of the girl's intelligence, and her openness and curiousity are part of her earthiness, her sanity. There's a marvellous sequence in which Mike calls her after an interval of three months and wants her to come to him right that minute. She says, "How about tomorrow night?" He says, "You know I can't plan that far in advance," and gets her to talk to him while he masturbates. He says he loves her voice, and though we don't see him, we hear a callow sweetness in his tone; he wants to give her satisfaction, too. I don't know of anyone besides Winger who could play a scene like this so simply. She's a major reason to go on seeing movies in the eighties--but not in Legal Eagles.”

Pauline Kael
The New Yorker, June 30, 1986

David Thomson

“Mike's Murder . . . was a star vehicle and a disaster, a film that went through agonies before it was released. Among other things, it showed Winger cast beyond her real range--actors need so much more work than they have a chance for today, and Winger had had little training…. Everybody Wins… was another sign of the actress's lack of technique….”

David Thomson
A Biographical Dictionary of Film,
Third Edition (1994), p 815

In 1986, in his review of Peggy Sue Got Married, Thomson had called Winger "the best young film actress around....":