The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
November 30, 2017 10:34 PM - Subscribe

The comfortably drab life of a working mom [GEENA DAVIS] becomes a nightmare when she finds herself pursued by an assassin who seems to know more about her cloudy past than she does. Frightened by the attack and by some disturbing memories that have resurfaced, she seeks assistance from a private detective [SAMUEL L. JACKSON].

"Shot against the freezing backdrop of an East Coast winter, much of the fun comes from the pairing of Davis and Jackson and the way Shane Black flips their roles - Jackson is the perfect sidekick, allowing Davis to show that she can be a convincing action heroine."

68/70 on RT, 2.5 stars from Roger Ebert

“Chefs do that”: The underappreciated holiday joy of “The Long Kiss Goodnight”

The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996), Lookback/Review - "
Overlooked, underappreciated, Geena Davis headlining an action flick with Samuel L. Jackson as her wisecracking, foulmouthed sidekick. White girl, Black guy buddy movie. Some of us here LOVE this movie."

The Spy And The Private Eye And THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT
When Charly shoots men armed with machine guns trained on Mitch, here’s how those men’s deaths are described in the screenplay: “The bad men go away.” The Long Kiss Goodnight is the story of Samantha Caine and Mitch Henessey making the bad men go away, becoming heroes in the eyes of children. And if Mitch is the moral center of the movie, Hal is its hope. Hal nearly dies because of Samantha, and he witnesses her kill One-Eyed Jack with a punch to the skull, a snap of the neck, a pie to the face — she even licks the cream. But he still tells her: “The person you used to be, whatever you find, I’m not scared. I never will be.” Underneath the snappy dialogue and the balletic violence, what Hal expresses to Samantha is the message of The Long Kiss Goodnight: that you can reconcile the warring and fucked-up parts of you, that you can forgive yourself the sins of the past, and that others will love you in spite of them.
posted by the man of twists and turns (42 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I believe I still have this on VHS. I'll hook up the VCR, get a Boboli, and make it a 90s kind of evening.
posted by rhizome at 10:44 PM on November 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

Wow, I totally remember seeing this in first run at the Admiral in West Seattle, when I lived in that part of town. I'd like to see it again. Thanks for the post!
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 10:57 PM on November 30, 2017

I LOVE this film so much. It's kind of terrible but I don't care.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:08 AM on December 1, 2017 [6 favorites]

This movie has a soft spot in my heart, because back in the early days of pay per view, I accidentally ordered it on my then long distance boyfriend's (now husband's) cable. I just thought it was on loop on HBO. So I pretty much spent a day in a strange town where I only knew him (and he was at work) developing very mixed feelings about Craig Bierko. (Who I believe has great range and is widely unappreciated.) I feel like we need to track this down now. :)
posted by librarianamy at 5:00 AM on December 1, 2017

I like this movie a lot. I think it got a lot of criticism at the time for the child endangerment subplot.
posted by jwgh at 5:37 AM on December 1, 2017

I have a real affection for this movie. Its sort of like it shouldn't work, its pretty derivative in a number of places but both the main characters work really well, the script is zippy with some excellent lines (for Jackson particularly) and Davis is good on the action side of things. I might dig out the DVD between now and New Year.
posted by biffa at 6:00 AM on December 1, 2017

the script is zippy with some excellent lines (for Jackson particularly)

He has a solid 12-18 mother-effers in there, that's for sure.
posted by Literaryhero at 6:13 AM on December 1, 2017

Shot against the freezing backdrop of an East Coast winter

Written by Shane Black so of course it's at Christmas.

Probable high point for Toronto-spotters: They're in Atlantic City and walk right by Honest Ed's.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 6:21 AM on December 1, 2017

I remember starting this, turning it off before the heavy action began, and not getting back to it; I was impressed by SLJ not really doing his usual BAMF thing. These appreciations have encouraged me to pick it up again, if it's available.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:24 AM on December 1, 2017

I loved this movie, having seen it only once on VHS maybe 20 years ago! The scene where Davis, having just crashed her car, wanders around distractedly until she snaps a deer's neck and then keeps wandering has stuck with me for decades.
posted by Mogur at 6:42 AM on December 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

The dialogue was the best part of the movie.

"What happened?"
"I saved your ass. It was great."


"Putting the keys in my left pocket. Gun's on the right hand side."
"It makes a bulge. People can see."
"You want me to stick it in my pants and shoot my damn dick off?"
"Now you're a sharpshooter?"

The scene with the explosion and the window was fantastic.
posted by zarq at 6:43 AM on December 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

In the hallway:

Mitch: "OK, I've got three shots left in the revolver. You've got a full clip. Just point and spray, okay? Ready. And....."
[A grenade lands on the ground next to them]
Mitch: "Fuck it! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!"
posted by zarq at 6:48 AM on December 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

Ass out of ‘U’ and ‘mption,’ ham on rye... so many great lines
posted by infinitewindow at 6:57 AM on December 1, 2017 [4 favorites]

It is a wild, fun,crazy flick. Davis and Jackson are awesome. And the use of "Stubborn Kind of Fellow" is just...perfect.
posted by davidmsc at 7:08 AM on December 1, 2017

This movie is part of the Holiday Movie Club
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:48 AM on December 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

The part where Jackson gets shoved out of the truck and just rolls over and lights a cigarette is so good. A lot of good moments in this. I found Davis very believable in all aspects of her role, which seems crazy when you look at it on paper.
posted by ODiV at 7:51 AM on December 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have always liked this move and have never understood why people didn't appreciate its genius.

It's a buddy cop movie with a suburban mom who is also an assassin and her primary character arc is getting over (and exploding) a shitty ex and becoming a better & cooler mom!
posted by slimepuppy at 8:05 AM on December 1, 2017 [5 favorites]

It's really too bad we didn't get twenty years of Geena Davis showing up in action movies after this like we got twenty years of Samuel L. Jackson.
posted by ODiV at 8:10 AM on December 1, 2017 [12 favorites]

Super fun movie.

Another Geena Davis Action Star movie that was also a little goofy but super fun is Cutthroat Island.
posted by porpoise at 8:24 AM on December 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

"oh fooey I burned the darn muffins"

this is my #2 xmas movie every year!!
posted by supermedusa at 9:14 AM on December 1, 2017 [4 favorites]

Spoiler, small town mom, former international hitwoman, straps on ice skates to save the day! A perfect xmas thriller.
posted by sammyo at 10:09 AM on December 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

This might be the Shane Blackiest that Shane Black ever got. It is delightful.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:57 AM on December 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

The kid gets to do some heroic clever plot-advancement, too; not just tied to the tracks. The dialogue I've remembered since seeing it in a theater:

"Mommy, am I gonna die?"

"Oh, no, baby, no. You're not going to die. They are. "
posted by clew at 11:25 AM on December 1, 2017 [4 favorites]

*spoilers* lol...

I always found the actress who plays the daughter (Caitlin) to be really annoying, but I think they cast her for her resemblance to Craig Bierko. in the freezer, when he looks at her you can see the shock of recognition in his eyes. he realizes she's his daughter but still decides to kill them. its a powerful moment.
posted by supermedusa at 12:13 PM on December 1, 2017 [4 favorites]

Looking for the quote I liked, I came across this one:
Mitch: You're telling me that you're gonna fake some terrorist thing, just to scare some money out of Congress?

Leland Perkins: Well, unfortunately, Mr. Hennessey, I have no idea how to fake killing 4,000 people - so we're just gonna have to do it for real. Blame it on the Muslims, naturally. Then I get my funding.
This the one I remembered:
[Charly jumps over a fence with a rifle and surprises Raymond]

Charlie: Good morning, Raymond.

Raymond: Good morning, Miss Caine.

Charlie: What have we learned about the dangers of smoking? Give it here. Thanks. Tell anyone you saw me... I'll blow your fucking head off.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:08 AM on December 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's really too bad we didn't get twenty years of Geena Davis showing up in action movies after this like we got twenty years of Samuel L. Jackson.

Agreed! And I have a lot of respect for Samuel L Jackson. Geena Davis is just so much fun in this movie.
posted by harriet vane at 6:47 AM on December 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

The answer to this:
It's really too bad we didn't get twenty years of Geena Davis showing up in action movies
Was in the very next comment:
Cutthroat Island.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 10:24 AM on December 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

Ha no, come on. Cutthroat Island came out before this. We all know the real reason.

Watching The Long Kiss Goodnight again right now and it's definitely a product of its time from the introductory voiceover exposition to the musical cues. I can't help thinking another pass with one of today's editors would do this movie a world of good. Then again it would probably lose some of what makes it unique in the process.
posted by ODiV at 10:39 AM on December 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

I was so obsessed with this movie in my wilderness late teen years, I can quote so much of it ("That's not a dick, it's a duck.") Fun fact: late-90s rap almost-sensation Charli Baltimore took her name from this movie.
posted by Gin and Broadband at 12:08 PM on December 2, 2017

Always loved that name.
posted by rhizome at 5:31 PM on December 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

So I watched this movie for the first time tonight- and while I’ll agree there are a bunch of good lines, the tone is so inconsistent. First it’s deadly serious, we’re thinking about how Mitch doesn’t want to go back to jail (or how he objectifies women), next he’s being improbably launched out of a third floor window while tied to a chair?
posted by Secretariat at 9:23 PM on December 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

the tone is so inconsistent

It was the 90s...
posted by porpoise at 12:41 AM on December 3, 2017

Nathan: Alice, please. Your dog, Alice. It and my appetite are mutually exclusive.

Alice: Well, what's wrong with the dog?

Nathan: Simple. He's been licking his asshole for the last three straight hours. I submit to you that there is nothing there worth more than an hour's attention. I should think that whatever he is attempting to dislodge is either gone for good, or there to stay. Wouldn't you agree?

The delivery on that line is so amazing.

the tone is so inconsistent

i'll 'inconsistent' you're ass. Shane Black is a goddamned national treasure.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:10 PM on December 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

This might be the Shane Blackiest that Shane Black ever got.

Regret to inform the correct answer is Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Also at Christmas!
posted by kirkaracha at 9:54 PM on December 3, 2017 [4 favorites]

Fun movie, but the tone is definitely inconsistent.

Black's script does exactly what the rest of his scripts do so successfully--set up an unlikely pair of unheroic people who begrudgingly respect one another to work through a series of improbable yet believable action set pieces, have some juicy character interactions, discuss principles, and then trudge towards the finale with the understanding that it will be lethal for everyone.

Shane Black loves to write the low private detective role, like Joe Hallenbeck in The Last Boy Scout, or Holland March in The Nice Guys, or Harry Lockhart in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Mitch is so much fun to watch because he's doing that, but with much more dignity and style than these characters in the other films. And he throws shade at Samantha because he thinks that her lifestyle is absurd, just like Hallenbeck mocking Jimmy Dix. I think their relationship is interesting, and Jackson in particular gives us some good stuff during the later scenes in which Charly decides to use him.

I have some conflicted feelings about the way Samantha/Charly was written, and I suspect that Geena Davis did too. Her delivery of that line at the beginning about staring at tits stands out in a way that I felt like she must have wanted to call attention to it, because she didn't say it like her character thought it was funny--and that seemed to be the intent of the script. I'm fine with her deciding to not care about her family when it's convenient; that's been a mainstay for male action heroes for a long time. This film decides to use her family against her in a way that I didn't like, though. That was inconsistent too. Overall, I love Geena Davis, it was great seeing her sass the bad guys and kill kill kill. Once she turns into Charly, her proficiency is so exaggerated that her character may be closer to Arnold in The Last Action Hero than any other Black protagonist.

But I think this film was a little hamstrung by poor direction. The script is really good, and the actors are good. The performances still don't completely come together in a way that would make the line readings/character development make sense. Black's characters always have a bond that isn't plainly stated, and it wasn't clear in this film. I suspect that there was meant to be some sexual tension, but that doesn't come across. If it had, it would have answered two questions I have--why does Charly suddenly want to fuck Mitch, and why is Mitch sticking around when she doesn't offer him riches until the very end of the film?
posted by heatvision at 4:02 AM on December 5, 2017

This post made me sad - Ive never seen it, and now I really want to, but I cant find it streaming anywhere! (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (always spoken in a french accent Kees Kees Bong Bong) is one of my favorite movies.)
posted by Illusory contour at 8:06 PM on December 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

I suspect that there was meant to be some sexual tension, but that doesn't come across.

I'm guessing maybe it didn't, or they thought it wouldn't, "test well" so it was excised. Kinda like Romeo Must Die, it didn't fit what we're comfortable with in terms of on-screen romance, so bye-bye. This is pure speculation on my part, but it's really hard not to see race playing a part here.
posted by ODiV at 8:17 PM on December 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Or, alternatively, given similar performances from different actor(s) I would have read sexual tension in a way I didn't here because of my own biases.

Or they just didn't have much chemistry?
posted by ODiV at 9:35 PM on December 5, 2017

Naw, I definitely got a Romeo Must Die-ish racism vibe - wrt Davis and Jackson.
posted by porpoise at 11:48 PM on December 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm of two minds on the question of sexual tension between Charly and Mitch. While I wouldn't be surprised to learn that racism was an element, I feel like the gender-flip is more significant. There's a madonna/whore aspect to Charly's split personality that you don't have in the Jason Bourne archetypal action hero. How would her character journey of regaining her killer super-spy abilities without losing her non-sociopath cover life be impacted if Mitch/Charly went anywhere past banter? And there's something unique about how Mitch gets damsel-ed.

Anyway, I too love this ridiculous movie.
posted by oh yeah! at 12:28 PM on December 7, 2017

I watched this again last night and realized how mich it plays like a prequel to The Bourne Identity, right down to the participation of Brian Cox.

The book of The Bourne Identity came out in 1980 though, maybe it influenced Shane Black.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 2:04 PM on September 8, 2020 [3 favorites]

« Older The Worst Witch: Season 1...   |  The Orville: New Dimensions... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments