Directed by the legendary Dennis Hopper and the less legendary Alan Smithee, and with a cast that includes Hopper himself, along with such amazing star names as the amazing Jodie Foster, Dean Stockwell and Vincent Price, this 1990 movie is a tight thriller and at the same time a funny and witty black comedy. Foster stars as Anne, a sensitive artistic type who is unlucky enough to witness a mafia hit and honest enough to phone the police.
Once she gets to the station, she realises that the Mafia have a plant working on the force and catches fright. However, the Police still want her testimony but now, she already has a hit man after her. Trapped between a rock and a hard place, she flees toMexico, where she bumps into the hit man. And here’s the twist, the hard as nails killer has fallen in love with her while studying her art as he learned about her for the hit. Though initially, disgusted, Anne undergoes a fascinating change as she becomes more and more attracted to her would be suitor and before long, both of them are on the run from the mob after he defaults on his job and utterly fails to kill her.
Catchfire is a joy from start to finish, mainly because of the superb actors giving it their all for the story. Standouts are Dean Stockwell and an uncredited Joe Pesci as Mafia men, parts they were both born to play and who bring a great deal of comedy to the film. Vincent Price brings his usual subtle silky menace to the Mob Boss, but it’s Hopper and Foster who walk off with the acting gongs. Hopper’s portrayal of the killerMilois alternatively terrifying and incredibly sweet, especially where he awkwardly expresses his love for her.
This is a man who has not seen much tenderness in his life and Hopper brings that sense of pain and potential loss to the fore with great subtlety. And Jodie Foster makes the slow conversion from angry and scared captive to willing lover completely believable. Her feelings and reactions change with great credibility and it is a credit to both leads that such an on the face of it unrealistic plotline is given such conviction.
Directors: Dennis Hopper, Alan Smithee
Writers: Rachel Kronstadt Mann (story), Rachel Kronstadt Mann (screenplay)
Stars: Dennis Hopper, Jodie Foster and Dean Stockwell