'Brigham City' Full of Suspense, Avoids Preaching; Monroe Movies to Debut on DVD.(WASHINGTON WEEKEND)(PHANTOM OF THE MOVIES)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 25, 2002 | Go to article overview

'Brigham City' Full of Suspense, Avoids Preaching; Monroe Movies to Debut on DVD.(WASHINGTON WEEKEND)(PHANTOM OF THE MOVIES)


Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The fact that Brigham City, new this week from Spartan Home Entertainment, is set deep in the heart of Mormon country and was created by a Mormon filmmaker might turn off some viewers. That would be a big mistake, because "Brigham City" rates with the greatest modern indie noirs (e.g., the Coen Brothers' "Blood Simple," John Dahl's "Red Rock West") shot during the last two decades. It's our ...

Video pick of the week

Richard Dutcher, writer-director of "Brigham City" (priced for rental VHS, also available on DVD), also takes the lead role of Wes Clayton, chief temporal (as sheriff) and spiritual (as church bishop) protector of idyllic, sheltered Brigham, Utah. But Wes is no shining hero; he's a damaged soul with a tragic history (wife and son killed in a mysterious road mishap that left Wes with a permanent limp and haunted heart) and a major blind spot - a reluctance to acknowledge the "outside" (i.e., non-Mormon) world. As he tersely tells young deputy Terry (Matthew A. Brown) about violent crime, "It doesn't happen. Not here. Here's all I care about." No sooner are those words out of Wes' tight-lipped mouth than the lawmen stumble upon the body of a slain woman in a deserted barn.

The victim is identified as an out-of-state traveler, so Wes is only too happy to turn over the investigation to Salt Lake City FBI agents led by Scully-like Meredith Cole (Tayva Patch). But when pretty, innocent "Miss Brigham 2001" (Jacque Gray) becomes the unknown killer's next bludgeoned victim, Wes is forced to admit that it's indeed an "inside" problem and quite possibly even an inside job.

Like such vintage moral noirs as Nicholas Ray's 1952 "On Dangerous Ground," "Brigham City" is a model of artistic economy wherein every detail serves the story, with nary a wasted word or glance to be found in its swiftly paced 115 minutes. Auteur Dutcher explores his main themes - outsiders vs. insiders, self-destructive denial vs. self-protective guile - while delivering a taut, tense, at times emotionally devastating thriller that will keep you guessing to the end. Anything but a proselytizing Christian film, "Brigham City" is a must for anyone in the mood for a terrific, textured suspenser that will echo long after the end credits roll.

Collectors' corner: Mondo Monroe

Marilyn Monroe fans will find reason to rejoice next month when 20th Century Fox presents "The Diamond Collection: Volume II," spotlighting five Monroe movies making their DVD debuts ($19.98 each): The late actress stretches in a pair of early 1950s psychological thrillers - as an unstable baby sitter in Roy Ward Baker's underrated Don't Bother to Knock, co-starring Richard Widmark; and as a scheming wife in Henry Hathaway's beautifully shot Niagara, with Joseph Cotten as her intended victim. …

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