Blake Edwards, the middle brow genius, if you don’t mind my calling him that, behind The Pink Panther (1963), brings us an entry in that excellent comic sub-genre, the worst night ever. But unlike After Hours (1985), the night from hell in Blind Date (1987) is just the beginning. Edwards takes Dale Launer‘s screenplay and finishes with a final act that is uniquely his own in style. One significant difference is that while the Pink Panther films ended on ambiguous notes for hero and love interest, the 1980’s will not allow for anything but a set up for a final kiss and a happily-ever-after. The original music by Henry Mancini runs exactly parallel with its 80’s-ness.
Walter Davis (Bruce Willis) is an assistant asset value something-or-other for an investment firm (possibly) and is running the analysis for a deal with a Japanese company. But the thing is that this particular Japanese fella–because large profitable Japanese firms typically are run by a single individual who makes all business decisions on their own–is very traditional (read: misogynist) complete with a harem of concubines. So Walter needs a date–family values and all that–but he’s a busy guy without a social life and his go-to girl already has plans that night. Walter asks his brother (Phil Hartman) if he can borrow his wife, but it’s their anniversary. But brother has a great idea, he should take Nadia (Kim Basinger). Nadia’s new in town and needs some friends. But there’s one thing you absolutely musn’t do, and that’s get her drunk or else she goes “wild”. What he forgot to add is that she has a lunatic ex boyfriend (John Larroquette).
This is the kind of film one might come across on cable late at night or in the mid afternoon. From there, you will either surrender to the zaniness and enjoy yourself or fight against the memory warp where Bruce Willis isn’t a wise-cracking man’s man, but a sensitive, modern man with the majority of his follicles intact. One can probably trace the intelligence of Willis’s film choices in inverse relation to his natural scalp-coverage. I for one am firmly in the pro-Blake Edwards camp (at least insofar as The Pink Panther series and Blind Date are concerned) and found all of those similarities charming and fun.
Dale Launer, the writer of two other spectacular comedies Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988) and My Cousin Vinny (1992), has dropped off the face of IMDb after 2005. So, despite the fact that the premise of the film bears striking resemblance to an ironic British sketch, I’m surprised not to have seen more from him. Neither the material nor its cinematography really beckons for high definition, but the marginally higher quality afforded to the blu ray does, at the very least, establish the definitive format for the film. There is no way and no motive to make its images sharper or its sound brighter. Henry Mancini, if he actually had a single piece of music played in the film, had come down a long way since his Pink Panther theme, which is still one of the best from the era. Ohhhh yeahhhh.
I’m sure the price will soon be right.