Jagged Edge - Jagged Edge [Powerhouse - 2021]
Jagged Edge is one of the more compelling and tense (largely) courtroom-based thrillers/ dramas of the 1980s. It features Jeff Bridges and Glen Close in lead roles, and both do a great job, as do the surrounding cast- building a wonderfully well-acted and cleverly scripted thriller, that really leaves you guessing right until the end. Here from Powerhouse is a Blu Ray release of the film- featuring a new high-definition print, a few new extras, and a nearing hour-long archive interview with Mr Bridges.
Jagged Edge(original title Hearts Of Fire) appeared in 1985- been a prime example of both the 1980’s neo-noir and (light) erotic tinged thriller form, which were gaining popularity at the time. It was directed by Welsh-born director/ producer/writer Richard Marquand (The Legacy, Eye of the Needle, and Return of the Jedi), with a script by Joe Eszterhas (Basic Instinct, Showgirls, and Sliver). It’s a sleekly constructed and glossy looking film, that balances plot twists ‘n’ turns, with neat moments of tension and suspense. Sure it’s very 80’s in both its set dressing and wardrobe, as well as its characterization, but this is (largely) fairly charming.Roger Batty
After credits of the night coming in over the Golden Gate bridge- the film kicks off in tense form, as we see a masked and gloved man breaking into a beach house. He makes his way to the master bedroom to tie, then taunt with a ( jagged-edged) knife the woman in the bed, before stabbing her. Flash forward a few hours, and the cops are on scene- we find out the killed woman is Page Forrest, a San Francisco heiress, the wall is smeared with blood, with the word ‘bitch’ written above her, the housemaid has also been slaughtered too. The only survivor in the house is Hopes husband Jack(Bridges)- who has been bashed about a bit but is largely ok. Fairly soon it becomes clear Bridges is prime suspect, as he will get everything in her will, as well as the paper his wife owns that he is the editor of. The lawyer firm that looks after his business affairs is mainly corporate based- so a murder trail is rather out of their depth. They call on Teddy Barnes (Close)- a recently devoiced mother of two, who has past experience in murder cases. To begin with, she’s not interested, but fairly soon becomes won over by Bridges who has seemingly been wrongly accused of the crime. Leading up the prosecution team we have Thomas Krasny(Peter Coyote), and he and Close have a courtroom past.
As expected with a largely courtroom-based thriller, things settle down after the initially taught tension of the murder. And instead, it locks into 'is he guilty or not' back ‘n’ fort, each of the witnesses is played by a great character actor, and their questioning is kept nicely suspenseful/ clever. Along with the unfolding court case both Close and Bridges get closer and closer, and fairly soon are lovers- this of course adds an extra twist to the proceedings. The film roles in around the hour and fifty-minute mark, and largely keeps you held in its back and forth, and 'did he/ didn’t he do it'- with a great and surprising end to proceedings. Creating a good and suspenseful courtroom thriller is always a tricky job, as more often than not they get bogged down by overacting histrionics, too complex evidence, and bland shot choice- but thankfully Jagged Edge has none of these, making it one of the better of this type of film.
I clearly recall the VHS box/ posters for this back in the day, but at that point, I was more interested/ focused on the slasher genre. So it’s great to finally see the film, and the new high definition print looks very good- though of course, it does enhance the 80’s ness of the whole thing. On the extras front, we get three new on-screen interviews- the first and longest is with screenwriter Joe Eszter- this runs twenty-three minutes, and finds him giving a little introduction how he got into screenwriting, he moves on to discuss Jagged Edge- talking about how he came about with the story, discussing casting choices, and how popular the film grew to be -playing six months plus in some areas of the US. He talks about the typewriter in the film, which is a key plot point, and apparently, it was his typewriter that sadly got lost when it was sent back to him. All told a most interesting interview. Next, we get a seven-minute interview with the film's editor Sean Barton. Lastly, we get a nine-minute interview with author and musicologist David Huckvale- discussing the film's score by John Barry. He talks through the films main key cues- comparing the simple piano and flute moments to the work of Erik Satie, and points out the use of the repeated James Bound score note in the films tenser moments. Again another very interesting/ worthy interview, Huckvale has had input on a lot of Powerhouses releases, and you're always guaranteed of well-researched content, with Huckvale playing the film's score on his piano, which gives you a really good insight into how the score was written/ constructed. On the archive side of things we get an audio-only interview with Jeff Bridges from 1990, which runs just shy of the hour mark, and lastly original trailer, radio spots and image gallery.
After been aware of Jagged Edge for so many years, it was nice to finally see it. As expected, Powerhouse does another splendid job with the Blu Ray reissue- with a great new print and a good selection of extras. If you enjoy courtroom dramas/ thrillers, and you’ve not seen Jagged Edge you need to pick this up, as it’s certainly one of the best films this genre has to offer.