Mitch Henessey

Created by Shane Black

"This ain't no ham on rye, pal."

-- Mitch comes to the rescue

Despite the Chandleresque title, the film The Long Kiss Goodnight owes at least as much to La Femme Nikita as it does to the trench coat and fedora shenanigans of the gumshoe genre. Heck, even the P.I. in it, while playing a major role, definitely plays second fiddle to the client.

Shabby private eye MITCH HENESSEY becomes involved with an amnesiac schoolteacher and single mom, Samantha Caine (played by Geena Davis), begins having some troubling flashbacks, from a past that isn't hers, after the car she's driving hits a deer one night.

It turns out she's not a schoolteacher after all. Her real name is Charlie Baltimore, and eight years ago, she was a highly-trained assassin/spy immersed in a deadly plot to prevent the toppling of the government. Mission accomplished, she was brainwashed, to remove all knowledge of her actions. And of course now that she's rediscovered her past, the "good guys" decide she's a "security risk," and decide to take steps to ensure her silence once and for all.

Yeah, it's about as hokey a premise as you can get, and the film itself has little redeeming moral or social value, and is filled with gratuitious violence, much of it directed towards Davis. Tom Keogh sums it up in the Amazon.com editorial review: "Mechanistic in its violence, obnoxious in its attitude, the film makes Davis, a once-promising actress, nothing more than a special effect. She tosses one to sadists in the audience by allowing her character to be beaten, punched unconscious, and tortured."

But what Tom doesn't mention is just how exhilarating and thrilling the film actually is. Great art? Hah! And yeah, it is a little sick. But it's also great fun, a romping, stomping non-stop action flick, essentially one long chase, with Mitch and Charlie undergoing a series of increasingly improbable narrow escapes, shoot-em ups, and explosions. But oh, what narrow escapes, shoot-em ups, and explosions! And the one-liners are pretty funny too, I have to admit.

Some of the effects are just stunning, particularly a scene on (and under) a frozen river. It may be cheese, but this is cheese writ on a grand scale.

And of course, Geena Davis is always awful easy on the eyes. Her husband at the time, Renny Harlin, who has a deft hand with these sort of action flicks, directed.

Screeenwriter Shane Black certainly has a way with words when it comes to these sort of action flicks. He's best known for Lethal Weapon, and also wrote the screenplay for the P.I. shoot 'em up The Last Boy Scout (1991), for which he received an unprecedented (for the time) $1,750,000. He reportedly received $4,000,000 for The Long Good Night. Lord knows how much he scored for writing AND directing 2005's Kiss Kiss Bang Bang...

THE EVIDENCE

  • "What I'm saying is, back when we first met, you were all like "Oh phooey, I burned the darn muffins." Now, you go into a bar, ten minutes later, sailors come runnin' out. What up with that?"

-- Mitch, on Charlie's new identity.

  • "Life is pain. Get used to it."

-- Charlie (Sam) comforts her daughter.

  • Charlie: "Easy, sport. I got myself out of Beirut once, I think I can get out of New Jersey."
    Mitch: "Yeah, well don't be so sure. Others have tried and failed. The entire population, in fact."
  • "I never did one thing right in my life, you know that? Not one. That takes skill."

-- Mitch feels a little down

  • Charlie: "Were you always this stupid, or did you take lessons?"
    Mitch: "I took lessons."

(Ah, that explains it....)

  • "They're gonna blow my head off, you know. This is the last time I'll ever be pretty."

-- Charlie proves once again that vanity, vanity, all is vanity...

FILM

  • THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT...Buy the DVD...Buy the Blu-Ray
    (1996, Forge/New Line Cinema) 
    120 minutes
    Screenplay by Shane Black
    Directed by Renny Harlin 
    Producers: Stephanie Austin, Shane Black, Renny Harlin, Geena Davis (uncredited)
    Executive producers: Michael De Luca, Richard Saperstein, Steve Tisch
    Co-producer: Carla Fry
    Filmed in and around Toronto, Ontario
    Starring Geena Davis as Samantha Caine (aka "Charlie Baltimore")
    and Samuel L. Jackson as MITCH HENESSEY
    Also starring Yvonne Zima, Craig Bierko, Tom Amandes, Brian Cox, Patrick Malahide, David Morse, Joseph McKenna, Melina Kanakaredes, Dan Warry-Smith

Report submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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