Thursday, December 21, 2006

Cinq Coins

It's strange that Tony Bill's Five Corners has vanished into obscurity. It was a major Christmas release in 1987 for the arthouse scene, with a cast of young actors on the cusp of major fame; Jodie Foster, Tim Robbins and John Turturro. It wasn't a hit, but it had a lot of name recognition at the time, not least because it was written by John Patrick Shanley, who would win the Oscar for the other film he wrote that year, Moonstruck. He seemed like a major new screenwriter at the time.

Five Corners was tough to market: here's a one sentence summary of the film I just found on the internet machine:
A rapist gets out of jail and returns to his old neighborhood in the Bronx, setting off a series of events that bring together his victim, her boyfriend, a pacifist, two wise-cracking cops, an algebra teacher killed by an arrow and other assorted eccentrics.
So yes, escalating weirdness, and yet grounded firmly in impeccable production design that recalls photos from Look and Life magazines of the period (1964, the Bronx). It made for a very memorable film... actually I'm almost afraid to see it again in case it's not as good as I recall...

But there's no point in grabbing it in its present condition. Cannon put it out on home video in the nineties but they must have lost the rights along the road to ruin, for in the last days of the VHS era and into the DVD era, myriad public domain releases of Five Corners started popping up in discount movie bins at Wal-Mart, etc, most likely all mastered from a ninth-generation VHS dub. Not even the cast was enough for a major player to grab that one when the rights came into the market? I'm sure you can buy a fine quality version in France...

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