Movies From the Black Lagoon

The Naked Face - 1984, Rated R

By Tom Doty

A Chicago psychiatrist is trapped in a web of suspense when people around him start getting killed in this thriller from the awesome 80s.

The movie opens with a striking montage of people divulging their innermost feelings. Turns out they are all patients of Dr. Stevens. He’s a debonair doc who is seen treating an emotional male patient. We learn that the guy is leading a double life and is afraid to tell his wife and family that he is seeing another man. The patient is promptly stabbed to death buying roses for his spouse.

The police show up at Stevens’ office in the form of Lt. McGreevy and detective Angeli. McGreevy is an ornery type who is still nursing a grudge against the good doctor for testifying in a trial that saw his partner’s killer declared insane. He is rough on Stevens and insinuates that the doc is behind his own trouble.

The killings continue with Stevens’ secretary getting iced and his office being ransacked. Stevens confides that the killings may be one of his patients but won’t give any of them up. Instead he opts to look into it himself. He winds up reaching out to a private detective named Morgens, however, when two killers try to take him down at his apartment building.

Meanwhile the police have their own problems with the investigators turning on each other over the treatment of Stevens. No therapy will help this relationship and McGreevy offers up his resignation after Angeli tells their boss how hard he has been going after the doctor.

Morgens earns his retainer in a hurry by finding, and defusing, a bomb planted in Stevens’ car . He manages to disable a car bomb that was left for Stevens and soon calls with news that he has figured out the answer. Stevens confesses to Angeli that he has hired his own guy and is chewed out for bringing in another potential victim.

Morgens alls in and reveals he has figured out who the killer is and asks Stevens to meet him. Angeli tags along and they race to the meeting spot. Unfortunately someone has punched Morgens’ ticket . Stevens eventually figures out who his tormentor is but by that time he is in the clutches of the killer and all seems lost. Suffice to say the answer lay in one of his patients.

This is a decent thriller that manages to keep you guessing for awhile. The clues are there to solve it yourself and you probably will figure it out before Stevens. He is a bit of a dope and appears to be the only guy in Chicago who never heard of the mob. He is also far from heroic . His big action scenes involve locking himself in an office till help arrives and ,later, getting the snot kicked out of him by guy who couldn’t whip cream.

It helps that the plot comes from a novel by Sidney Sheldon. He was a seasoned plotter who was at his best when exploring melodrama. The cast also helps with Roger Moore turning in a restrained performance as Stevens. He is ably abetted by Elliot Gould as Angeli. The film, however, is high jacked by Rod Steiger.

Steiger is a fine actor but restraint is not a word in his vocabulary. His McGreevy is a hambone’s delight. The character starts off on a rant and proceeds to go full tilt boogie in every other scene. Steiger bulges his eyes, throbs a vein, and bellows most of his lines like they were instructions from on high that you better catch because there will be a test later. It’s an edgy job(okay over the edgy to be honest) but it sure keeps the movie from getting boring. Stick around for the final scene which offers a what the heck denouement that will have you going, huh?

Best Lines: ” We have a dead guy who is dead.”

” What was it this time? A midget with a laser?”

‘You need a new fur coat like I need herpes.”

The Naked Face – 1984, Rated R

By Tom Doty

Tom Doty is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.

Tom Doty is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.

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