May 12, 1996

Mulholland Falls

After nineteen years, all I remembered of this detective noir was the Hat Squad investigating a conspiracy to cover up Jennifer Connelly's murder. I also remembered hidden camera footage of Connelly's naked body, but it seems like a lot of those shots may be body doubles? I also remembered the literal all-star cast: Nick Nolte, Melanie Griffith, Chazz Palminteri, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, Treat Williams, Jennifer Connelly, Daniel Baldwin, Andrew McCarthy, John Malkovich, Bruce Dern, and Louise Fletcher. Rob Lowe and William Petersen have cameos, and young Kyle Chandler and Titus Welliver have bit parts!
Not to be confused with Mulholland Drive, Mulholland Falls is a Chinatown-style noir whose plot doesn't make much more sense than the Lynch movie. Nineteen years after seeing it in the theater, I checked it out again on Amazon Instant Video. Nick Nolte surprised me with his depth and subtlety as the troubled, weary detective who once indulged in an affair with Connelly - I found their romance cold and boring, my wife just found it creepy. Nolte had much stronger chemistry with Melanie Griffith as his wife. Besides being tortured with remorse over the death of his onetime mistress, and guilt over breaking his wife's heart, Nolte also wows me with his hearty ass-kicking of a trio of FBI agents (led by supercilious Daniel Baldwin) who underestimated him. Thanks to his trusty blackjack, and a surprise ambush in a parking garage, the G-men didn't put up much of a fight, and Nolte got to tear into them, then drag Baldwin into the gutter before delivering his message:
"This is L.A. This is my town. Out here you're a trespasser. Out here I can pick you up, burn your house, fuck your wife, and kill your dog. And the only thing that'll protect you is if I can't find you. And I already found you."
The whole script isn't as good as this scene- it's strange to make an LA noir where the subject of the mystery is set at an Army base, and the conclusion is just generic 90s action: Nolte and Palminteri fight Treat Williams and Kyle Chandler aboard an Air Force paratrooper plane, then throw Williams and Chandler off, then barely crash land the plane in the desert when the pilot is shot. Hardly the conclusion of a LA detective movie?
I find glossy all-star Hollywood genre movies very relaxing, even if they don't really work. My Stub Hubby grade: C-minus