Episode 29 - Catch The Heat (1987)
Imagine this, you're an accomplished screenwriter who has won an Oscar and been nominated for a Golden Globe. You're well respected in your field and you have all the power in the world to get anything green lit in Hollywood. You've just recently married a young Vietnamese woman who wants to become an actress in America. Do you:
A. Keep working on good material.
B. Decide to give up everything you're known for and write a vanity project for your new bride and convince your Oscar winning actor friend to star in it.
If you guessed B, you might be Stirling Silliphant.
Catch the Heat is a movie that simply shouldn't have been made. Pure and simple. It's a vanity project with a budget. It's like a home movie for rich people and their friends that happened to get a theatrical release. This movie encapsulates everything that is wrong in the movie business; but it's just so enjoyable bad.
Tianna Alexander - who had never acted before meeting her late husband - stars in a movie alongside Oscar winner Rod Steiger - Yes... Rod fucking Steiger - in a movie about a drug lord who uses implants in women to smuggle heroin in the USA. You might ask, what movie did Rod Steiger win an academy award in? Well funny enough, the one that Stirling Silliphant wrote and also won an award for: In the Heat of the Night (1967). Do you think that has anything to do with why he makes an appearance in this movie? I'm sure it's all a coincidence.
This movie is a real bizarre treat. You never know if it's supposed to be funny or serious. The main character's name is Checkers Goldberg - that's not a joke - and she goes undercover as a Chinese woman named "Cinderella Pooh" (also not a joke) to take down a talent agent who is a suspected drug lord, played by a very bored Rod Steiger; never have you seen a man so anxious for the words "cut" to be called.
It would be easy to hate on a movie like this but Catch The Heat is so damn lovably bad. From Checker's insane (and pretty racist) portrayal of Cinderella Pooh, to David Dukes taking his role way to seriously, to Rod Steiger wondering why he agreed to this project, everything is so bad and so in the open that it can't help but bring a smile to your face.
This is an example of what you can do when the world is at your fingertips. You can work towards your dreams of winning another Oscar or you can say fuck it and make this movie to try and make your wife an action star.
NEXT WEEK'S FILM
The Last American Virgin (1982)
Director: Boaz Davidson
Writer: Boaz Davidson
Stars: Lawrence Monoson, Diane Franklin, Steve Antin
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