Think of this as a guide through each of Christopher Walken's films, starting with his first and moving forward. Each review will provide analysis, factoids and opinion on the ninety-plus films in his career.

Mistress (1992)

mistressCOVERGenre: Comedy / Drama

Walken in Short: He only appears in a single scene here, but it’s good. He only says a few lines, but he makes a big impression, and his actions motivate the main character to do everything that he does.

Movie in a Sentence: Marvin (Robert Wuhl) has a chance to direct the film he wrote (an edgy, artsy, depressing drama that was inspired by the death of a friend), and old-school producer (Martin Landau) wants to get it made, but the investors (Robert De Niro, Eli Wallach, and Danny Aiello) all have strong opinions on how to change the film, and so do their girlfriends, and also their wives.

Director: Barry Primus – This was his only real directing job. He’s more known as an actor, but nothing really impressive.

P1030112Writer: Barry Primus and J.F. Lawton (Lawton isn’t a house-hold name, but he did write the script for PRETTY WOMAN, and he also directed the Steven Seagal action-classic UNDER-SIEGE. Most impressive to me though is the work he did in 1995, writing and directing a little film called THE HUNTED. No, not the Benicio Del Toro knife-fight film, this is a guilty pleasure of mine that stars Christopher Lambert as a normal American business-man in present-day Japan that gets hunted by a clan of ninjas and protected by a clan of samurai. Forgive me, but I love that film. It’s a bit cheesy, and whatnot, sure, but it’s such a good time. It’s funny, exciting, sexy, and full of bad-ass moments. Also, it is SAMURAI VS. NINJAS!!!

Actors Other Than Walken:

Robert Wuhl is the protagonist  in this. He plays Marvin, a middle-aged shell of a man. Something happened in his past and he still can’t deal with it. Who is Robert Wuhl? Remember the tv show Arli$$? No, me neither but he starred in that. But Wuhl was also in Tim Burton’s BATMAN. He was the obnoxious but plucky reporter trying to get with Kim Basinger’s loveliness. In this film he does alright. Kind of pathetic, but still funny, and his turns of depression and anger are believable.

P1030109Martin Landau (who was in SLEEPY HOLLOW with Walken) plays Jack, an old-school film producer trying to get back in the game. I like Landau in pretty much everything I’ve seen him in. This is no different. He’s so good at convincing people to do what they don’t want to do. This charming character makes me think of Steve Martin in BOWFINGER and William H. Macy in STATE AND MAIN.

Robert De Niro (The Deer Hunter, of course) plays Evan Wright, a rich shrewd businessman who has more money than manners. In addition to a wife and three kids, Evan also has a mistress, played well by Sheryl Lee Ralph, that wants a role in the film.

Danny Aiello plays Carmine, another potential investor, with both a fiance and a mistress that want a part. Aiello is an entertaining character-actor. He was great in THE PROFESSIONAL and HUDSON HAWK.P1030098

Eli Wallach was in an old horror film with Walken called THE SENTINEL. In this he plays another potential investor, named George. Very Jewish, very funny. Terrific character. An old man with a young blonde girlfriend (played by Tuesday Knight) who also wants a role in the film.

Jace Alexander plays Stuart, a young screenwriter who at first just seems to show up at the business-meetings for the free-lunch, but eventually earns his keep by schmoozing the investors and making the rewrite of the script palatable to everyone. Everyone but the director.

P1030083Film Length: one hour and 50 minutes

MPAA Rating: ‘R’

Available to Own: It was put on DVD at one time, but it is a bit rare these days. You’re looking at $20 – $40 on Amazon. It may be floating around out there for less, but it is definitely a rare one. No Blu-ray.

Similar Films: I’m a fan of films about film-making, so I’m going to spend a little more time talking about these similar films than I normally would:

  • Living in Oblivion – great little Nineties film starring Steve Buscemi as an Indie Director on his set, trying to get a film made. Also stars Catherine Keener and Peter Dinklage. Good stuff. Creative, and nice to see Buscemi starring in something.
  • The Big Picture – another great film about a director trying to get his dream-film made. This one stars Kevin Bacon, and has a super-hot Teri Hatcher, a shmarmy Martin Short, and a quirky Jennifer Jason Leigh. So many more great people in this. This is a much under-appreciated film. Fun fact: This was directed by Christopher Guest (Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman, A Mighty Wind, etc) but is not a mockumentary.
  • Bowfinger – Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, and Heather Graham are trying to make a film. This one I didn’t like so much when I first saw it, but revisiting it years later revealed some brilliant moments.
  • The Player – terrific film about film-development, producers, studio-politics. This one is directed by Robert Altman and stars Tim Robbins and dozens of others. Great film.
  • State and Main – I’m a big David Mamet fan already, so a movie about a big Hollywood film-crew setting up in a small rural Vermont town seems like a sure win to me. Add the likes of William H. Macy, Alec Baldwin, David Paymer, and Philip Seymour Hoffman (among others) and I’m there.
  • The Amateurs – A group of underachievers in a small town decide that the easiest way to make a bunch of money is to become pornographers. The community helps out. Another under-appreciated film with a great cast: Jeff Bridges, Ted Danson, Joey Pantoliano, Tim Blake Nelson, and William Fichtner.

The last film has the honor of being a Walken-film:

  • Search & Destroy (1995)- This is one of my favorite obscure Walken films. Griffin Dunne is trying to adapt his favorite book into a movie. Dennis Hopper is the self-help guru author of the book. Christopher Walken is …well, let’s just say he’s a slightly unbalanced businessman that wants to help Griffin out. John Turturro is a friend of his, also interested in helping. Illeana Douglas is great in this. Martin Scorsese actually has a small acting role. I lovelovelove this film. This is necessary watching.

Walken Quote:

“Marvin Marvin Marvin, you’re killing me Marvin. You’re killing me Marvin.This is not the script we agreed to.”

~ Christopher Walken (as Warren Zell)

Walken Content: 3% – Just a single scene. He plays a film-actor named Warren Zell. Warren has a definite idea of who his character is, and he’s willing to sacrifice a lot to convince his director (Robert Wuhl) not to compromise his vision for the demands of the producers.mistress4

Should You Watch This? Not necessarily. I’m a fan of movies about the film-making process, so this was a treat, but there isn’t anything in here that is mandatory viewing. Not a lot of Walken, and De Niro is pretty average, although Landau is the stand-out here, and Wallach is such a colorful character. So it’s fun, and not at all a failure, but no, this is not necessary Walken watching.

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