For no reason other than it showed up in a row of recommendations on Netflix and I couldn’t decide on anything else, I rewatched the Ivan Reitman-directed Legal Eagles recently, likely for the first time in over 30 years.
For those who haven’t seen it: Robert Redford stars as Tom Logan, an up-and-coming Assistant District Attorney in New York City who’s handed the high-profile assignment of seeing whether or not there are charges to be filed against Chelsea Deardon (Daryl Hannah), the grown daughter of a famous artist who died when she was a child. She’s been arrested after allegedly breaking into the apartment of someone who might have one of the few of her father’s works to have survived the fire that took her life. Chelsea is represented by attorney Laura Kelly (Debra Winger), who winds up working with Logan to find out the truth of what happened not only with Chelsea but also all those years ago when her father died.
As is often the case when these things happen, I have some thoughts now that I’ve seen it again:
First off, that poster is really something. Nothing about the photo itself communicates any aspect of the story or characters, other than that Laura is very serious, Tom very breezy and Chelsea very blonde. The clothing styles are all over the place and that copy at the top is in desperate need of someone who can whittle it down significantly.
The movie is less the story of combative and very attractive lawyers who have to unravel a mystery surrounding art forgery and insurance fraud and more the story of how Hollywood just completely turned its back on two very talented actresses.
In any given movie, Robert Redford is the most attractive man that’s ever been on film. This is no exception.
No, seriously, I’d like to go back to the moment in time where Debra Winger was pushed to the sidelines and have a conversation about how we shouldn’t let that happen. Because, just as she does in just about every role, she shows up here and goes toe-to-toe with Redford, which is no small thing. I get that she took herself out of the system for a number of years, but still…
He’s known primarily for Ghostbusters and other straight-up comedies, but we need to more fully appreciate the romantic comedy wing of Reitman’s directorial career. While there’s certainly a Tier 1 to this list, Tier 2 isn’t terribly far behind:
- Legal Eagles
- Six Days, Seven Nights
- No Strings Attached
No, seriously, Daryl Hannah is so good in so many things and Hollywood couldn’t get past her playing kind of a ditzy blonde and sometimes I get angry about this, especially given the conventional wisdom that her career was torpedoed by That Miramax Guy.
There’s an extended bit in the film where Winger’s character gives Redford’s a hard time about the various charming looks he utilizes to appeal to juries and I feel like we didn’t appreciate how this was essentially Zoolander’s “Blue Steel” 15 years early.
It’s also an incredibly accurate encapsulation of Redford’s entire career, which is nice.
Steven Hill as a New York district attorney, but not the one you’re thinking of.
Ladies and gentlemen, Christine Baranski, but make sure you’re looking for her because she’s easy to miss given this is 1986 and all.
Speaking of 1986, remember when even romantic thrillers meant for audiences over 30 looked this good as a matter of course? Not that the cinematography is incredibly innovative or anything, but László Kovács’ work here is representative of a period of filmmaking when it looked like people cared about how the movie looked and knew how to frame a damn shot.