There's a Hollywood dictum about not going on the floor until you've fixed the script, but it's obviously news to the makers of this picture. The novel by John Katzenbach, from which it's taken, may have been an overweight airport buy, but it did have two startling plot twists, both fumbled by the script. For some reason, Armstrong (Connery) has had a career change from investigating journalist to Harvard law professor, and this effectively destroys the humiliation of his Pulitzer backing up on him when he realises his newspaper campaign has released the wrong man from Death Row. Another no-good reason issues him with a wife (Capshaw), and to give her something to do, the script babbles about a past entanglement with the killer. Briefly, Armstrong is persuaded to take the case of black convict Bobby Earl (Underwood), railroaded for raping and killing a little girl. He was beaten into a confession by police chief Tanny Brown (Fishburne), and at the retrial is set free, after which the killings begin again. Harris as a mad serial killer is lit from under; Connery and Fishburne are adversarial along Heat of the Night lines, but director Glimcher makes little of the small-town Deep South locations. Pity.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Jeb Stuart, Peter Stone|
Daniel J Travanti