Lady in Waiting

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Our rating: two lava lamps.

Information about this film in the Internet Movie Database.

Lady In Waiting
"Calgon, take me away!"
Consider the strange case of Shannon Whirry: a former "erotic thriller" regular turned "legitimate" actress, now trying desperately to be taken seriously for her acting ability and not for her bod -- which, we'll admit, looks great without clothing. The irony is that this erotic thriller, Lady in Waiting, makes for better viewing (on both fronts) than does the "legitimate" Whirry film we saw recently.

But for the nudity planted liberally throughout the movie, Lady In Waiting could pass for a typical tv detective flick-of-the-week. Its male star, Michael Nouri, has been in his share of those. The story involves sex, murder, betrayal, and revenge, all staples of such network efforts, and the cast contains enough talent that the film scrapes its head against the b-movie ceiling.

Lest you think that this celluloid zombie has somehow lurched out of the gutter into respectability, however, let us assure you that it is still an erotic thriller. As such, the film is home to the usual over-exposed mammaries, has-been actors, and ridiculous dialogue for which such films have become known. Lady in Waiting is no prize, but it is still unusually interesting for its genre.

Lady In Waiting
Whirry and Nouri imitate the cover
of a Harlequin romance novel.
Nouri is Jimmy Scavetti, a homicide detective who was divorced from his wife Elizabeth (Crystal Chappell) when she discovered his penchant for prostitutes. Liz can apparently pick the real winners, because not only does her current husband Scott (Charles Grant) share that penchant, he's also being blackmailed for his part in the accidental death of a hooker and abuses Liz in the bargain. Jimmy begins investigating a rash of prostitute murders which in turn point towards Scott as the guilty party. When Scott suddenly turns up dead, however, it looks as though Jimmy whacked him and the suspects who could be framing our hero abound. Is it Liz? One of the hookers who were blackmailing Scott? Or is it Lori (Whirry), the mystery woman who suddenly appeared in Jimmy's life? While the outcome isn't tough to predict, it is complex enough to keep one occupied while waiting for Whirry's next disrobing.

The dialogue meanders along the line between purposefully entertaining and unintentionally hilarious. Most of the time it maintains some believability in a film-noirish sort of way, but occasionally a line comes along that these actors just can't sell.

Lori: I don't trust men on the rebound.

Jimmy: I don't trust women, period. We're a perfect team.

Lady In Waiting
Next on Fox:
When Voice Actors Appear On Screen!
Heck, we're not sure even Bogart and Bacall could have done much with dialogue like that.

Robert "Harvey Bullock" Costanzo's presence in Lady In Waiting is likely an indication of an impending boat payment: he loiters on the set, playing Jimmy's partner and making small talk with Meg "Futurekick" Foster. Foster, who takes a break in the middle of the film to feed Costanzo some sushi, reads her lines with such wispy restraint that we thought she might be channeling some other actress.

What this film needs is a little more connection between its characters. It's tough to figure out the killer's motivation for involving Jimmy in all of this, and even tougher to put all of the relationships together at the movie's end. Fortunately, the story establishes early on that Jimmy is motivated by, uh, "Little Jimmy," so it's all too easy to believe that he would stick around for all of this abuse.

Now the question is: what's our excuse?

Rent or Buy from Reel.

Review date: 2/25/99

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