Okay, before I dive into this, I would just like to avoid any confusion by pointing out that the movie I will be reviewing today, Tennessee Waltz, was originally titled Tennessee Nights. Why not?
Julian Sands and Stacey Dash star in this “thriller” about a British lawyer framed for murder while vacationing in backwoods Tennessee (…?). Wolfgang Leighton (Julian Sands) probably didn’t have a lot of career choices with a name like that, so a lawyer he became. And because he’s the fun –loving, vacation-in-the-Tennessee-hills type, he went into the music business. After wrapping up a recording/contract session with Johnny Cash, Wolfgang gets a tip on a good fishing spot in rural Tennessee and heads that direction.
After driving a ways, Wolfgang decides to stop for the night at a hotel. Unfortunately, according to Hollywood, decent hotels are hard to come by in the backwoods down south and he is forced to get a room in a questionable-looking trailer park. He discovers the woman in the room next to him; Sally Lomas (Denise Crosby) is a bit nosy and looking for a drinking buddy. This seems like a good time to employ that assertive, dominant lawyer attitude, but Wolfgang is the most soft-spoken lawyer in the history of ever and has trouble getting Sally to leave him alone.
By the time Wolfgang finally gets the message across that he’s not interested in Sally, her drinks, or her sweaty backwoods charm, it is quite late and he crashes on the bed. However, shortly after lying down, he hears a struggle in Sally’s room next door. Screams ensue, and instead of being a hero, Wolfgang loads up his car and gets the heck out of there.
It is here that the film seems to lose track of its supposed genre. Wolfgang trundles on down the road, has breakfast at a diner, and continues on his quest to find that elusive fishing spot that’s apparently worth all this fuss. Along the way he reluctantly picks up a young hitchhiker named Minnie (Stacey Dash) and finds a much more British lawyer-friendly hotel room.
Aside from the fact that he now and then notices a car following him from a distance with some unknown occupants, it seems Wolfgang is back on track. For a time, this film turns into nothing more than a quiet lawyer on a serene fishing journey with a homeless runaway. More or less what he planned on, I’m sure. But eventually the car stalkers are too much even for Wolfgang. At last he decides he must inform local police that he is being stalked and that he believes it has something to do with poor Sally.
As Wolfgang informs local police, they tell him that Sally is in fact dead, and he suddenly becomes a suspect. Both he and Minnie are tossed into jail for a few days. The local law enforcement isn’t able to hold them long though, and after gathering what they learned from the police, Wolfgang and Minnie are sure that the faceless stalkers are after money that Sally had, that they believe Wolfgang now has. Try as they might, they can’t locate the missing money. In a rather anti-climactic ending, Wolfgang is completely cleared, gives up his fishing trip and heads home. Right before his flight leaves, Wolfgang says goodbye to Minnie and shares with her his last guess as to where the money could be. As it turns out, he is finally correct, and Minnie is able to grab the money and be on her merry hitchhiking way.
This independent film was definitely out of the ordinary, but much more a soul-searching drama than thriller. Even so, I found that the plot seemed to get lost amongst the quiet talks and long drives. Who knows, maybe that is that the director was going for? Until next time.
Tennessee Waltz, 1989, rating unavailable (possible PG-13)
Starring Julian Sands, Stacey Dash, Ed Lauter
Directed by Nicolas Gessner
Written by Hans Werner Kettenbach, Laird Koenig
Watch Tennessee Waltz on ThisTV!
Friday April 18th at 3am or(again) Monday April 21st at 11pm!