Jagged Edge (film)
|Directed by||Richard Marquand|
|Produced by||Martin Ransohoff|
|Written by||Joe Eszterhas|
|Music by||John Barry|
|Cinematography||Matthew F. Leonetti|
|Edited by||Sean Barton
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
Jagged Edge is a 1985 film starring Glenn Close, Jeff Bridges, and Peter Coyote. It is a courtroom thriller, written by Joe Eszterhas and directed by Richard Marquand. Robert Loggia was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role.
An intruder in a black mask and clothing ties up San Francisco socialite Page Forrester at her remote beach house and kills her with a hunting knife with a jagged edge. He writes the word "Bitch" on the wall with her blood. Her husband Jack (Bridges) later recovers in a clinic with a bloody head wound, claiming to have been knocked unconscious and awoken to find Page's body. After her funeral, he is arrested for her murder by DA Thomas Krasny, based on evidence that includes a witness at a club who saw a hunting knife in Jack's locker; medical suggestion that Jack's head wound was self-inflicted; Jack's fingerprints being at the crime scene with Page's; and Jack inheriting all of Page's corporate and personal assets in the event of her death. Forrester tries to hire high-profile lawyer Teddy Barnes to defend him after hearing of her high success rate. Barnes, however, used to work for Krasny, and is reluctant to take the case as she stopped working in criminal law after an incident with him.
Krasny runs into Barnes. He tells her that "Henry Styles hanged himself in his cell," which distresses her. Barnes visits Sam Ransom (Loggia), a private detective who used to work for Krasny's office, as well. He stopped private investigations at the same time that Barnes left Krasny's office, and it becomes clear that the Styles case was the reason. Barnes decides to take the case on the condition that Jack does not lie to her. Test results from a polygraph test that Forrester takes indicate that his testimony is truthful.
While preparing for the trial, Barnes and Forrester spend a great deal of time together, and eventually end up having sex. Ransom warns Barnes that Forrester is just trying to make her care more about his case. Barnes replies that she is aware of that. Her office then begins receiving anonymous typed letters that mention things about the case, especially that Forrester is innocent. All of the letter t's are slightly raised, and analysis determines that they were written on a 1942 Corona typewriter.
In a pre-trial meeting, Barnes tells the judge that Krasny has a history of not meeting his discovery obligations. The prosecution's case relies mainly on circumstantial evidence. A jilted woman claimed that Page told her she was divorcing Jack, but Barnes discredits her with evidence, including a love letter, that her advances had been rejected by Jack, causing Page to cut off all communication with her.
Krasny calls a witness who had an affair with Forrester. The details of her relationship with Forrester are eerily similar to the way he seduced Barnes. Krasny also interviews a man named Bobby Slade who claims he had an affair with Page around the same time Forrester had an affair. Barnes threatens to drop the case. She agrees to proceed because of a sense of duty, but she now believes that Forrester is guilty. Barnes also questions Bobby Slade about his affair with Page, and becomes slightly suspicious of him being guilty, especially after he begins making angry remarks at her and follows her to her car. Barnes then questions another member of the club who claims that he had a hunting knife in his locker, numbered 222, while Jack's is numbered 122. When shown in court, the member says that it is his, although the club witness says it is not the knife he saw, considering it is scratched up and the handle is worn.
Another note arrives at her office saying, "He is innocent. Santa Cruz. January 21, 1984. Ask Julie Jensen." Barnes interviews Jensen, who testifies at the trial that she was attacked in the same manner as Page Forrester. All the details match, but she says her attacker seemed to stop himself from killing her. As Krasny objects that the attack on Jensen is unrelated to the one on Forrester, he lets slip that his office had investigated the attack and not revealed it in discovery. In chambers, the judge threatens to have Krasny disbarred. Barnes once again believes Forrester is innocent. Krasny insists that Forrester staged the earlier attack in order to create an alibi of sorts for Page's murder, which he had planned for eighteen months. Krasny also insists that Forrester has been sending Barnes the anonymous notes.
After Forrester is found not guilty, Barnes announces to the media that she left Krasny's office over the Henry Styles case, where Krasny suppressed evidence that proved Styles was innocent. Krasny walks off in disgust.
Barnes goes over to Forrester's house to celebrate, and they have sex again. In the morning, she discovers a Corona typewriter in his closet. She tests it, and the "t" is raised just as it was in the anonymous notes. She throws clothing over the typewriter and flees with it, pretending to Forrester that her little boy is sick.
When Forrester calls Barnes to ask about her child, she tells him that she found the typewriter. Forrester seems confused to Barnes and tells her he is coming over. Barnes calls Ransom, breathless with fear and on the brink of telling him that Forrester is a killer, but instead insists that everything is all right and hangs up, while learning that Bobby Slade has a warrant issued for him. The killer dressed in black breaks in and confronts Barnes in her bedroom. As he starts to attack, Barnes throws back the covers to reveal her gun. She shoots him multiple times until he falls to the floor, dead. Ransom comes in and unmasks the attacker: it is Forrester (who has a look of dismay frozen on his face). Teddy, distraught, is comforted by Sam, who tells her "F**k him, he was trash."
- Glenn Close - Teddy Barnes
- Jeff Bridges - Jack Forrester
- Peter Coyote - Thomas Krasny
- Robert Loggia - Sam Ransom
- Maria Mayenzet - Page Forrester
- John Dehner - Judge Carrigan
- Karen Austin - Julie Jenson
- Guy Boyd - Matthew Barnes
- Marshall Colt - Bobby Slade
- Louis Giambalvo - Fabrizi
- Ben Hammer - Dr. Goldman
- Lance Henriksen - Frank Martin
- Sanford Jensen - Scott Talbot
- James Karen - Andrew Hardesty
- Leigh Taylor-Young - Virginia Howell
- William Allen Young - Greg Arnold
- Ann Walker - Ms. Barnes' Secretary
- James Winkler - Ted Fitzpatrick (as James Winker)
- Bruce French - Richard Duffin
- Brandon Call - David Barnes
- Phyllis Applegate - Mrs. Stiles
- Michael Dorn - Dan Hislan
- John Clark - Dr. Holloway
According to Joe Eszterhaus the film originated with producer Martin Ransohoff who wanted to make a courtroom drama in the vein of Anatomy of a Murder. The film was originally written as a vehicle for Jane Fonda who later turned down the project.
Jagged Edge received positive reviews from critics. It currently holds an 82% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 28 reviews. Variety called it "well-crafted" overall and praised the performances of its two lead actors. Janet Maslin of The New York Times also praised the performances, but thought the film predictable. Roger Ebert described the suspense in the film as "supremely effective" and rated the movie 3 1/2 stars.
The AdultSwim show Harvey Birdman Attorney at Law episode 4 Death By Chocolate was based on Jagged Edge.
- Maslin, Janet (1985-10-04). "'Film' Glenn Close As Attorney In Jagged Edge". The New York Times.
- "Robert Loggia Filmography". The Washington Post.
- Review: 'Jagged Edge' (1984-12-31). Variety. Retrieved online from Variety.com 2015-01-27.
- Maslin, Janet (1985-10-04). "Jagged Edge (1985) Film: Glenn Close as Attorney in 'Jagged Edge' ." NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2015-01-27.
- Ebert, Roger (1985-10-04). "Jagged Edge." Movie review. RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 2015-01-27.
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