Color of Night

(Originally published Spring 1995 in The Gleaner of Rutgers University-Camden.)

Okay, let’s see. A few years back, after the dismal profits of Hudson Hawk (1991), Bruce Willis decided to hang up his tragedy mask and concentrate mostly on death– defying actioners. Maybe a sprinking of some light comedy, but nothing serious. With the exception of Death Becomes Her (1992), he’s done just that. Until now.

In The Color of Night, Willis plays Bill Capa, a New York psychologist. One fine day, one of Capa’s patients puts on way too much lipstick, then hurls herself out a high– rise window. Naturally, our boy Bill blames himself for this unwarranted outburst, and grows more and more despondent as time passes.

In an effort to heal himself, Capa takes a little vacation to Los Angeles, where he looks up an old friend and colleague (Scott Bakula). Bakula suggests that Capa join his support group, reasoning that when Capa hears the patients’ problems, he’ll offer advice and find himself feeling much better. In passing, after Capa’s met the group, Bakula mentions that he’s pretty sure someone in the group is trying to kill him.

Whoops! Did I give something away there? I think they call that foreshadowing.

Anyway, sure enough, Bakula turns up quite dead, a victim of accidental multiple stab wounds. Whodunit? Only Brucie–boy can find out. He takes over the group in an effort to find out the killer’s identity.

The assets of this film are its ultra–quick pacing and Jane March. Oh, there is a bit of a twist ending, but you’ll probably grasp it early in the film. March, a relative newcomer to the movie scene (she made her debut in 1992’s The Lover), is stunning; perhaps the sexiest rookie in many years. She oozes sweetness and sensuality from every pore.

Willis is just average as the traumatized shrink. He’s got another hangup, too, one which probably was only included to justify the film’s title. Capa, it seems, cannot see the color red, and has not been able to since his patient’s plunging death. This malady works its way into the storyline a few times, but is generally extraneous.

The oddball support group boasts a scary lineup. It is peopled with various character actors, including Lance Henriksen (The Terminator), Leslie Ann Warren (Worth Winning) and Brad Dourif (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest). Ruben Blades (Disorganized Crime) shows up in a offbeat role as an in–too–deep policeman.

This film had to be trimmed before theatrical release due to excessive (it was felt) frontal nudity on the part of Willis. The home video version (unfortunately?) includes this footage for your pleasure.

**1/2

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