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  Blue City Judd's Not Their Bud
Year: 1986
Director: Michelle Manning
Stars: Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, David Caruso, Paul Winfield, Scott Wilson, Anita Morris, Luis Contreras, Julie Carmen, Allan Graf, Hank Stone, Tommy 'Tiny' Lister, Rex Ryon, Felix Nelson, Willard E. Pugh, Sam Whipple, David L. Crowley, Paddi Edwards
Genre: Drama, Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Billy Turner (Judd Nelson) is back in Blue City, on the coast of Florida, where he was raised by his father who became the Mayor, but tensions in the family caused him to leave five years ago. Now, however, with his father reaching out to him Billy has been persuaded to return, though the first thing he does when he gets off the bus is not arrive at his old home, but go to a bar to get a drink - and a brawl. Seeing as how he started it, the bullish young man is thrown in jail for the night and when he emerges from the cells, he meets the clerk in the station who happens to be Annie Rayford (Ally Sheedy), sister of an old pal of his, Joey (David Caruso), but the local police chief Reynolds (Paul Winfield) wants to speak with him...

Reynolds has a bit of bad news to discuss, yes, Billy won't be reconciling with his dear old dad because the man is dead, murdered and nobody has been collared for the crime. So what's a rebel now with a cause to do but seek out the culprit and arrange his own form of justice? Something else he can do is get a motorbike, standard issue for screen rebels ever since Marlon Brando roared into town on such a hog in The Wild One, and as a tribute to the deceased he leaves at the grave a... basketball? To each their own, but we really want to get to the thriller part, never mind the mopey drama, and even though this had a very brief running time for a feature released to cinemas, there was a degree of pussyfooting around.

There was a reason for that, as this was a case of what went on behind the camera being more interesting than what was captured in front of it. Blue City quickly gained a reputation back in 1986 of being one of the biggest turkeys of its year, racking up a bunch of Golden Raspberry nominations and playing to small audiences when it finally did slink out into the public gaze, and the person who was landed with the blame for that was the director, Michelle Manning. She went onto be very successful as a production executive, but whether it was her inexperience or bad old-fashioned sexism, she was lambasted for messing up a much admired Ross McDonald novel, and that distinct lack of substance to the end result could be down to the issues during filming.

Of course, the knives were out for the Brat Pack, of which Nelson and Sheedy were members, and any excuse to haul them over the coals was not one to be passed up by critics and public alike for they had quickly become held up as examples of the barren creativity of the younger generation in Hollywood. Looking back, this was completely unfair, as they were no better nor worse than any number of new talents of the decade, but only a small few had the chance to consolidate this early fame with an acting career that did their early promise justice, and the stars of this were not two of them. They were fresh off The Breakfast Club (which Manning had produced) which at least had won them some fans among the teens, but dispiritingly generic thrillers like this were no way to go about sustaining that.

That's not to say there were no interesting elements in the end product, there was one sequence where Billy and Joey sabotaged a greyhound race by simultaneously holding up the office where the takings were, and throwing a joint of meat onto the track which ruins the event as the dogs help themselves to this sudden and welcome meal. Why do they do this? It's down to Billy's vendetta against the owner, resident Mr Big Perry Kerch (Scott Wilson), who has married his widowed stepmother (Anita Morris) and may well have murdered his father, though he denies it. It was a mark of the tramlines of predictability that plot ran on that when we get to the twist, it lands with zero resonance, and with nobody particularly standing out as an interesting character, with Nelson more surly aside from springing to life when he gets some action to participate in, the best you could describe Blue City as was a time killer. With a spot of violence and bad language removed, it could pass muster as a TV episode - Manning did direct a couple of Miami Vice episodes later. Ry Cooder's synth music was not a good sound for him, either.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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