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No. 7, June 2000
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Copyright 2000  www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.

Mickey Blue Eyes
Hugh Grant and James Caan
Directed by Kelly Makin and written by Adam Scheinman and Robert Kuhn. With Hugh Grant (Michael Felgate), James Caan (Frank Vitale), Jeanne Tripplehorn (Gina Vitale), Burt Young (uncle Vito Graziosi), James Fox (Philip Cromwell), Scott Thompson (FBI Agent Lewis) and Joe Viterelli (Vinnie). Get Mickey Blue Eyes on DVD from Amazon.com, Amazon Canada, Amazon.de, Directmedia Schweiz.
 
Michael Felgate (Hugh Grant) is an art auctioneer at Cromwell's who makes more or less funny remarks such as "sold for $23,000, or $11,500 per buddock" (regarding a nude). He is in love with Gina Vitale (Jeanne Tripplehorn), a schoolteacher who happens to be the daughter of mobster Frank Vitale (James Caan). Gina wants to protect her friend Michael from the mob and therefore declines his awkward proposal of marriage made in a Chinese restaurant with a female owner who mixes up Michael's "proposal fortune cookie" with the one for a couple on another table. The scene is rude but has its charm.
 
Michael insists and goes to her father's restaurant The La Trattoria (he had earlier remarked to Gina that La already means The). Accidentally, instead of the toilets, he walks into a freezing room where he finds a trembling man. But Michael still does not realize what type of family he wants to marry into. With the song We Are Family in the background - he asks her father for Gina's hand in marriage. Due to some misunderstandings, Michael gets embraced by the "family".

Gina tells him who uncle Vito (Burt Young), the "butcher" Graziosi, Vinnie "The Shrimp" D'Agostino (Joe Viterelli) and all the others are. But Michael insists and, finally, Gina give in and marries him, which has far-reaching consequences. Suddenly, the art objects for the auction house he works for arrive in time. The mobsters "resolved" the delivery problems. But they also start laundering money through Grant's auction house, by selling "art", horrible paintings by Graziosi's son, through the gallery. At the same time Sotheby's suffers a fire - Michael finds a Sotheby's matchbox as a clear sign on his office desk.
 
Things start going out of hand. Michael refuses to sell a painting by Graziosi's son Johnny, Gina's cousin, to an old lady who misunderstood several gestures by Michael which were not meant for her. Johnny is upset because he could have made a lot more money than he first thought. He comes to see Michael at home and starts beating him up. Gina accidentally kills him with a bullet which ricochets.
 
Father Frank comes in to handle the case (a reference to Pulp Fiction). When Michael and Frank Vitale try to bury Johnny at night, they find another team doing the same nearby. 
Frank: "That's Big Mickey from Kansas City". 
The mobsters: "I thought Big Mickey was dead?"
Frank: "The father. This is Little Big Mickey."
The other gangster: "Wasn't there a Little Big Mickey out of Chicago?"
Frank: "Yes. That was the original Little Big Mickey. This is Little Big Mickey Blue Eyes."
That's how Franks introduces Michael into the larger "family" and how Michael gets his name - and the film its title.
 
Mickey Blue Eyes is a romantic (gangster) comedy and, therefore, after some other complications, the happy ending comes as no surprise. Not all the lines are funny by far and not all actors, e.g. not Jeanne Tripplehorn, are convincing. Hugh Grant continues to try to create a career based on his one innocent look and some stammering. For Mickey Blue Eyes, a film which all in all is entertaining without leaving a lasting expression, this may work, but it won't be enough for a whole acting career since he does not have the talent of Cary Grant.

Biography & filmography
 
Hugh Grant: In 1982 while at Oxford University, he made the movie Privileged. In 1987, he was part of Merchant-Ivory production of Maurice, E.M. Forsterís account of a young man at the turn of the century confronting his homosexuality. This role brought him first international acclaim and a Best Actor award at the Venice Film Festival. This led to a succession of film roles, including The Dawning and Impromptu. In 1993, Grant was reunited with director James Ivory in his role as a journalist in The Remains of the Day (starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson). In 1995, Grant appeared as Edward Ferrars in the Oscar-winning adaptation of Jane Austenís, Sense and Sensibility.
 
Among Hugh Grant's comedies are Four Weddings and a Funeral (Golden Globe and British Academy Awards for Grant), Nine Months and Notting Hill. Other films include: Bitter Moon, Sirens, The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain. Grant also appeared on TV and worked on stage, e.g. with director Richard Wilson in An Inspector Calls at Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre. Mickey Blue Eyes is the second feature film from Simian Films, the company owned by Grant and (his former girlfriend) Elizabeth Hurley. The first movie was: Extreme Measures.
 
Jeanne Tripplehorn: Born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Tripplehorn moved to New York, where she attended the Juilliard School of Drama. She made her motion picture debut in 1992 in Paul Verhoeven's Basic Instinct opposite Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone. She also played in Sliding Doors and Very Bad Things, Kevin Reynold's Waterworld, etc. On stage, she starred e.g. as Masha in the stage version of Chekov's The Three Sisters.
 
James Caan: He was born in the Bronx and raised in Queens, New York. He did not want to follow in his father's footsteps and work in the family meat business. He entered Michigan State University at age 16 to study economics and play football. He transferred to Hofstra University to study law and, during a spring break, was interviewed by and accepted into Stanford Meisner's Neighborhood Playhouse. Caan then won a scholarship to study with Wynn Handman.
 
Caan began his career on stage in the 1961 Off-Broadway production of La Ronde. Television roles quickly followed, ranging from guest appearances on Naked City to regular appearances on The Untouchables and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. His feature film debut was in 1964 in Lady in a Cage, films such as Glory Guys and Eldorado followed. He was Academy Award-nominated for his performance as Sonny Corleone in The Godfather and for his Emmy-nominated portrayal of football star Brian Piccolo in Brian's Song. He received The Hollywood Film Festival's Achievement in Acting award for his body of work. Other films include Eraser and Rob Reiner's psychological thriller Misery based on the novel by Stephen King.
 
Joe Viterelli: He is one of my favorite "minor" actors. Unfortunately, he remains pale in Mickey Blue Eyes, largely due to the script. For more than 25 years he had been offered acting opportunities from producers, casting directors and directors, including his longtime friend, filmmaker Leo Penn. Viterelli declined them all until 1981, when Sean Penn called and said they were having difficulty casting a character from the Lower East Side in a film that was shooting on location in Viterelli's old neigbourhood on Mott Street. That screen test led to a major role in Phil Joanou's "State of Grace, Viterelli's motion-picture debut. He has appeared in some 30 films, including Analyze This (review in German), Eraser and Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway.


 
 
 

www.cosmopolis.ch
No. 7, June 2000
current edition & archives
Art  Film  Music  History  Politics  Archives
Links  For Advertisers  Feedback  German edition  Travel

Copyright 2000  www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.