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For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, July 1, 2016

EDITOR’S NOTE: Very few Jane Fonda movies are out of print but this one has been hard to find in recent years. Now it has been given new life by Warner Archive, the manufacture-on-demand DVD-R website for ancient and obscure flicks for fans. Here’s my Dec. 26, 1986, Deseret News review.

Here we go. I know I’m asking for trouble because there are those readers who hate movie reviews that give away very much plot.

So be forewarned — if “The Morning After” is high on your list of movies to see, you might not want to read this review beforehand.

Now I’m not going to say whodunit — but I am going to say something that might give you a big hint.

Ready? Here it comes: Mystery buffs are the most likely to be disappointed by “The Morning After” because there’s only one suspect.

I never thought I’d complain because a mystery didn’t have enough red herrings but this one doesn’t have any! Once the setup becomes clear, once the only motivation for the murder is remotely established, there’s only one person who could have done it.


           Jane Fonda, Jeff Bridges, 'The Morning After'

After you’ve seen the film you will know that the actual resolution is not quite that pat — it is twisted just a bit. But in general it’s pretty easy to figure out.

Now the filmmakers might argue that this isn’t really a mystery as such. It’s a character study and a romance and the tale of two very different people who are accidentally thrown together as they attempt to solve the mystery themselves.

But for me that’s a cop-out.

The story is set in Los Angeles, with Jane Fonda as an alcoholic ex-movie star who suffers from blackouts. In the opening scenes she awakens one morning to find herself in bed with a corpse.

Did she kill him? Even Fonda’s not sure, but she calls her ex-husband (Raul Julia) for advice, and when he says she should go to the police she instead tries to get a quick flight out of town.

Unfortunately it’s Thanksgiving Day. At the airport she links up with ex-cop Jeff Bridges and he drops her off back at the dead man’s loft.

Fonda then cleans up the apartment in a scene that is very reminiscent of the aftermath of Hitchcock’s famous “Psycho” shower scene, where Anthony Perkins cleaned up “Mother’s” mess.


Bridges drops by again and Fonda takes him to her apartment for a romantic Thanksgiving dinner on the terrace. Well, it’s not all that romantic, and it’s not exactly a terrace. But that’s OK, because these folks aren’t exactly Cary Grant and Grace Kelly and director Sidney Lumet is no Hitchcock.

Lumet has given us a number of very memorable films, of course, but not for a few years. And “The Morning After,” though it isn’t the worst of them, is hardly a memorable addition to the canon.

Fonda and especially Bridges are quite good, and they are also good together, which can mean an awful lot to a movie like this one.

But the story, the tension, the mystery — it’s just not there. And in the end, though it hasn’t been the least pleasant movie experience, it hasn’t been that great either.

“The Morning After” is rated R for violence, profanity, sex and nudity.