Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Month of Mysteries: "Jagged Edge" is a Movie with Many Edges

Made in 1985, Jagged Edge is one of my favorite mystery/suspense movies. It was directed by Richard Marquand, who is famous for directing Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi two years earlier. The screenplay was written by Joe Eszterhas who also wrote Basic Instinct in 1992. Many film critics think there is a similarity in the plot between the two films.

Jagged Edge reminds me of a courtroom mystery thriller made during the 1940s. It begins with a woman who is sleeping in a bed in a beautiful beach house. A person dressed in black with a black mask enters her room with a jagged-edged hunting knife. He overpowers her and ties her hands and feet to the bed. Then, we hear her screaming and see the outside of the house.

The murdered woman is Page Forrester, a wealthy socialite who owns a newspaper. The district attorney Thomas Krasny (Peter Coyote) immediately suspects that the victim's husband, Jack (Jeff Bridges), murdered his wife. Krasny is a lawyer who views this high profile case as a step to further his career. He is an interesting character who will stop at nothing to convict Jack.

Teddy Barnes, played by Glenn Close, is the lawyer who decides to defend Jack even though she has not tried a criminal case for four years. Teddy has her reasons for taking the case. She worked with Krasny four years ago. The two of them prosecuted a low-life criminal named Henry Styles for a crime. Teddy learned after Styles was convicted that Krasny knew information that could have proved Styles’ innocence. Teddy quit practicing criminal law because she said nothing about this and Styles went to prison. Krasny sees Teddy having dinner with her ex-husband in a restaurant. He informs her that Styles hanged himself in prison. Krasny hopes this fact will make Teddy feel even guiltier and she will not defend Jack. Instead, it only makes Teddy more determined to defend Jack; she views proving his innocence as a way to right the wrong done to Styles.

Teddy tells Jack she will not defend him unless she believes he is innocent. Jack is a clever man and convinces her that he truly cared for his wife. As the plot progresses, we see Teddy falling in love with Jack. They begin having an affair even though Teddy knows it is unethical. Teddy works with an investigator named Sam Ransom, played by Robert Loggia (who has the best lines in the movie). He is a crusty foul-mouthed investigator who warns Teddy about her relationship with Jack. He tells her he thinks Jack murdered his wife. Teddy defends Jack.

As the trial progresses, facts appear that make Jack look less guilty. Page Forrester’s best friend is put on the witness stand by Krasny. She tells the jury that Page was going to divorce her husband. Krasny points out that Jack Forrester is the sole beneficiary of his wife’s will and if his wife had divorced him, he would lose everything. Teddy questions the wife’s best friend and has a letter written by her saying how much she wanted Jack to become her lover—then an unexpected twist occurs. A note written on a 1942 Corona typewriter sent to Teddy suggests that a similar murder may have been attempted on another woman four months earlier. Teddy finds the intended victim, who tells the jury about her attacker. The attack and her attacker fit the murder of Page Forrester, throwing doubt onto another man. Will this latest revelation sway the jury?

I won't divulge the rest of the plot because it would ruin the ending. There is another twist and the climax of Jagged Edge is an absolutely stunning surprise. The last line in the movie, said by Sam Ransom, is just priceless--it's one you will remember forever.

The plot is carefully developed with intricate details. The viewer goes from thinking Jack is guilty to Jack is innocent several times. Is Teddy being fooled by Jack and his charm or is Jack really in love with her as she is with him? Will the two be happy forever in the end of the film? You will have to watch and see for yourself.

Robert Loggia was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1985. He didn’t win, but I think he should have. John Barry composed the haunting music. Barry is famous for composing many scores, including the ones for the James Bond movies. The 1942 Corona typewriter used in the movie was the same one that Joe Eszterhas used in writing the screenplay. I am a Star Wars fan so I have to mention this fact. When the ex-husband goes into his son and daughter’s bedroom to kiss them good night, there is a movie poster on the back of the bedroom door of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, which, as previously mentioned, was also directed by Marquand.

If you watch this movie, play close attention to all the details and events that occur. That is the most interesting and fascinating thing about it.


  1. Excellent review, Aki. I've never seen this film before, but I'll definitely be checking it out. You make it sound superb! Thank you for a great read.

  2. Aki, I've haven't seen this movie in many years, but your review makes me want to see it again (and I do remember the ending!). I've always enjoyed Robert Loggia; my first memories of him are from his short-lived TV series T.H.E. CAT. He had some good roles in the 1980s, including ones in AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN, BIG, and, of course, his Oscar-nominated turn in JAGGED EDGE. Thanks for a fun review!

  3. I really enjoyed your review, Aki! "Jagged Edge" is a good suspense film. I think the poster was very well designed, too. It makes Teddy look extremely vulnerable.

  4. Aki, Wonderful review! I agree this is a awesome movie! Sometimes, I wondered why Close's character wanted to defend him. Was it because she believes he is innocent, or is it because she is in love with him? Glenn Close and Jeff Bridges had wonderful on screen chemistry. The twists and turns are so well done in this film, it will keep you on the edge of your seat. I also thought... the music fit the mood of the movie perfectly .

  5. Aki, a great write-up of one of my favorite thrillers. Jeff Bridges and Glenn Close are great as the leads, but Robert Loggia steals the movie with his great lines. The film keeps you on the edge of your seat until the final scene when the identity of the killer is revealed. As noted previously by Dawn, the music adds much to the suspenseful atmosphere. Reading this post makes me once again view this wonderful and classic thriller.

  6. Thanks everyone for the nice comments. This is my favorite Jeff Bridges' movie. As for Glenn Close, it is one of her best performances, although she was awesome in Fatal Attraction. It is Loggia's finest performance too. Sark, you have to see this movie because it is a classic. Dawn, Teddy wanted to defend Jack to rectify the wrong she had done to Henry Styles. Teddy didn't love Jack at the time she made her decision to defend him. Dawn, the music is indeed haunting. I love John Barry. Anonymous, you and Dawn are so right about the chemistry between Bridges and Close. Robert Loggia does steal the movie with his great lines.

  7. One of my big time movies films. I love Jeff Bridges even in King Kong. He was great in this film. I like courtroom type of movies. Pointed out all the things I liked about the movie aki. I have it on DVD and think I will watch it tonight.

  8. Da*n...where is "True Grit"????

  9. I made a cut to this movie where it ends after Glenn Close finds the typewriter and looks shocked because the audience and her character know who the killer is but it also gives it an uncertain doom feeling. I also replaced the bittersweet music at the end with the scary music from the beginning on a loop.