HOWARD FRANKLIN’S THE PUBLIC EYE — A REVIEW BY NICK CLEMENT

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Howard Franklin’s 1992 effort The Public Eye is an interesting sort-of-neo-noir with an awesome performance from Joe Pesci who was hot off his Oscar winning turn in Goodfellas. Produced by Robert Zemeckis, this is a lavishly appointed period piece loosely based on the exploits of New York Daily News photographer Arthur “Weegee” Fellig, with Pesci playing a dramatized version of the famed nightcrawler (Lou Bloom eat your heart out!) Co-starring Barbara Hershey, Stanley Tucci, Richard Schiff, Jerry Adler, and Dominic Chianese(!), the film is an entertaining drama with lots of style and robust performances. Peter Suschitzky glossy cinematography was a perfect fit for the sordid material (bloody crime scenes, nocturnal shenanigans, the flashing of camera bulbs) and Mark Isham’s dynamic score sets the mood at all times. A box office flop despite solid reviews (Ebert was a notable four star fan), it’s one of those movies that I would consistently see at Blockbuster back in the day but for some reason never rented it. As it was on HBO HD, I recorded it, and found it to be immediately engagaing, something I probably wouldn’t have responded too as a teenager, but something I’m glad I had a chance to finally see. Franklin’s eclectic credits also include the screenplays for Ridley Scott’s underrated Someone to Watch Over Me, The Name of the Rose for Jean-Jacques Annaud, and co-writing/co-directing duties on the classic Bill Murray comedy Quick Change.

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