Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire (1987)

May 2, 2013 by adamsunderground

Stock photo of Jeannie Pepper. Image by SapporoSippin, via Photobucket

Much like a play, the story of Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire relies almost completely on dialogue. It is about how a married man’s suspicion of infidelity by his wife drives him to mental instability.

Mike Horner shows extraordinary acting range for the genre in his portrayal of the manic husband, Joseph. Constantly paranoid and fully aware of it, he keeps the story alive with his erratic, often deliberately comical, behavior, even after the story stalls out on its own halfway in the picture.

With over a dozen comedic instances, WTSTF has enough timeless material to overcome its other dated mid 1980’s sight gags and period jokes. And it’s opening credit montage isn’t one of them.

The montage of foreshadowing clips during its opening credits are in the style of several mid ’80s television shows. For example, the introduction of the contemporary sitcom 227 only differs from WTSTF’s in the establishing shots of the city and the direct attribution of credit to actor present on screen, otherwise the use of visual action clips to preview what’s to come is the same.

Such a revealing opening does such this movie no favors with the audience. A weekly television show has hours over the course of a season to develop surprise twists and turns, but WTSTF severely hobbles its potential with that montage.

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The story needs a misdirection involving Shanna McCullough’s athletically figured Tricia to make the revelation of her back story more powerful and less predictable. A important detail in script that almost gets lost in dialogue was her prior, off screen introduction to Phyllis, played by the buxom Jeannie Pepper.

In several of their lines with Horner, Pepper and McCullough seem stiff and unnatural in their readings. Oddly, in their final scene together without him, they deliver their lines smoothly, without err. In the same situations, Angela Barron and Angel Kelly’s acting work, although relatively abbreviated and inconsequential, does not suffer from the same inexperienced, inconsistent presentation. From the intensity of his performance in comparison, it’s possible Horner’s character was so effectively unsettling as to give his costars reason for pause.

Stock photo of Angel Kelly. Image by miqrop-net, via Photobucket

All the sex scenes are of an admirable level of professionalism in preparation and execution, by both the cast and crew. Much of it is enjoyable and requires no additional comment. The only minor misstep is Barron’s overly animated writhing and near screaming during sex with Horner, beginning when he first touches her. However, her further reactions manage to ascend in energy later on in the scene, lowering somewhat the artificial, exaggerated profile of those early gestures in relief.

A barest sketch of a character-driven story despite its reliance on dialogue, WTSTF succeeds telling a rich visual tale of Joseph’s insane bouncing, physically and mentally, between Phyllis’s abundant breasts and Tricia’s shapely hips.

Total Grade: A

Specialty Grade

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Screenplay B

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Acting A

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Cinematography A
applications-multimedia Film Editing B

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Visual Effects B

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Audio C

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Sound Editing B

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Audio Effects C

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Musical Score B

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Production Design B

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Adults Only

Mission

Expose Excellence in Erotic Film

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