Best Seller (1987)


A mysterious hitman, Cleve (James Woods, Salvador), wants cop-turned-writer, Dennis Meechum (Brian Dennehy, First Blood), to write a book about his experiences as a henchman to corrupt politician, David Malock (Paul Shenar, Raw Deal). At first Meechum doesn’t believe the killer’s wild tales of deceit and murder, but he quickly changes his mind when the bodies start piling up around him.

Reaction & Thoughts:

Nicely directed by John Flynn (Rolling Thunder), Best Seller mixes ’70s neo-noir and ’80s buddy formula quite well. I’m not going to pretend that the film doesn’t have problems because it does, but I liked the good stuff well enough to ignore the things that I thought didn’t work. It’s cynical, but not too pessimist. The violence is not exploitative either — it’s used to illustrate the mechanism of institutionalized corruption.

Best Seller is also a strange tale of redemption — a twist of fate allows two men from opposite worlds to find some sort of inner peace.

James Woods and Brian Dennehy create one of the unlikeliest movie couples you’ll ever see! Woods is psychotic and Dennehy is incorruptible. It’s fun to see them try to upstage each other. They are the glue that holds the movie together. They also do a good job accentuating a major plot point; cop and criminal are two sides of the same coin.

Larry Cohen is not the best writer out-there. He’s primarily known for making some funky B-movies (God Told Me to and Q – The Winged Serpent). Occasionally, Cohen wrote scripts for A-movies. This is, perhaps, the best of those screenplays. Also, if you’re an electronic music fan, you’ll love Jay Ferguson’s music score.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Best Seller is an intense and interesting thriller with two great performances at its center. With George Coe (Kramer vs. Kramer), Victoria Tennant (Flowers in the Attic), Charles Tyner, Seymour Cassel (Rushmore), and real-life stuntman Larry Holt as a bodyguard. Color, 95 minutes, Rated R.

4 responses to “Best Seller (1987)

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