Psychiatrist Dr Bill Capa (Bruce Willis) is suffering a crisis of confidence, and that's not surprising. A couple of days ago he had been discussing the prospects of one of his patients (Kathleen Wilhoite) with her, when the unstable woman took a funny turn and leapt through the window of his skyscraper-set office, dying on the street below. This so traumatised Dr Bill that he has lost all ability to see the colour red, and so he heads out to see his old college buddy and fellow psychiatrist Dr Bob Moore (Scott Bakula), hoping that a few sessions with him might settle his nerves. Bad move...
When Color of Night was released, it was met with incredulity, with viewers wondering precisely how seriously to take this thriller's preposterous twists. It went on to be regarded as one of the worst of its year, winning the Golden Raspberry Award, but after a while there was a sense that this film was entertaining despite itself. Richard Rush returned behind the cameras for the first time since The Stunt Man fourteen years earlier to direct, and while some have unkindly observed he shouldn't have bothered, on closer examination he brought a glossy style to the production.
It was at least the kind of style that the producers were presumably hoping for, much in the thrall of that holy grail of nineties erotic thriller success, Basic Instinct. Following in the footsteps of Sharon Stone was Jane March playing Rose, a fetching woman who was Dr Bob's girlfriend and becomes Dr Bill's girlfriend, even though she looks young enough to be either of the two men's daughter. Before you can say "you dirty old man" to both of them, Dr Bob has been brutally murdered, leaving Dr Bill wondering who the killer could possibly be.
Perhaps one of the patients he was seeing in the Monday night group? An ill-advised, by the looks of it, form of therapy for five of the mentally ill, they were meant to talk their problems over in a safe environment there, although what actually occurs is that they wind each other up something dreadful. Is it possible that one of them has been pushed to breaking point? Or is Dr Bill in fact the suspect? With a script by Billy Ray and Matthew Chapman that includes a host of supposedly innocuous scenes which actually come across as absurdly significant (or else why would they be included?), it seems as if everyone is a suspect.
Also a suspect is the investigating cop on the case, and a note about Rubén Blades' performance: he is quite possibly the least professional lawman since Frank Drebin, swearing, drinking on the job, taunting Dr Bill at every opportunity and generally behaving like a man with more problems than those he is quizzing. But for many, it is the sex scenes that this will be worth watching for, and although Color of Night was a flop in the cinemas, it was a hit on video; presumably most people fastforwarded to about an hour in and feasted their eyes for the next five minutes on the two stars.
Although she takes a while to disrobe, March certainly makes up for it in the last half and you can play the drinking game for every time she loses her clothes to get very drunk; to get even drunker, take a swig every time somebody cries - they're all at it! March cries during sex, too! This is undoubtedly a ridiculous film with its stress-induced colour blindness (which is only slightly important in two scenes) and laughable disguises, resolving itself into a giallo-themed cross between Vertigo and The Three Faces of Eve, but it's also quite a bit of fun if you're in a daft mood, and not only for that five minute sequence in the middle that must have exercised pause buttons across the world. Music by Dominic Frontiere.
Cult American director who never quite made the most of his talents, mainly due to circumstances beyond his control. He spent the 1960s working on exploitation films of increasing stature, some of which have become cult favourites, such as Hells Angels on Wheels, Psych-Out and The Savage Seven, until he gained recognition with counterculture drama Getting Straight. The 1970s followed with one other film, buddy cop comedy Freebie and the Bean, until in 1980 The Stunt Man, which many consider his best work, was released. After that he had just one more credit, for unintentional laugh fest thriller The Color of Night. His fans wish Rush had enjoyed more creative opportunities.