An Innocent Man (film)

Last updated
An Innocent Man
Innocent man poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Peter Yates
Produced by Ted Field
Robert W. Cort
Written by Larry Brothers
Starring
Music by Howard Shore
Cinematography William A. Fraker
Edited by Joseph Gutowski
Stephen A. Rotter
William S. Scharf
Production
companies
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release date
  • October 6, 1989 (1989-10-06)
Running time
113 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Box officeDomestic:
$20,047,604 [1]

An Innocent Man is a 1989 American crime drama thriller film directed by Peter Yates, and starring Tom Selleck. The film follows James Rainwood, an airline mechanic sent to prison when framed by crooked police officers.

Contents

Plot

James "Jimmie" Rainwood (Tom Selleck) is an ordinary and model citizen. Happily married to his beautiful wife Kate (Laila Robins), they have a modest home in Long Beach, California. Jimmie works as an expert American Airlines aeronautics engineer, supporting his wife while she's in college.

Detectives Mike Parnell (David Rasche) and Danny Scalise (Richard Young) are crooked narcotics cops who steal the drugs they seize at busts for their own recreational drug use and to sell to dealers, brutalizing or framing anyone who gets in their way. One of their regular customers for stolen drugs is Joseph Donatelli (J.J. Johnston), a high-level mobster.

One day Parnell takes a large hit of cocaine and gets confused about the address for the next drug bust, and, as a result they break into the wrong house. Just as Jimmie walks out of the bathroom with a hair dryer in hand, Parnell shoots, thinking it's a weapon. Jimmie is shot in the shoulder and knocked unconscious. Realizing that they could both be tested for taking drugs and charged, they decide to cover up their mistake. They plant drugs in the house and place a firearm in the hand of Jimmie's unconscious body, framing him as a drug dealer. Jimmie is pegged as a user, having a prior record of marijuana possession while in college, and his only defense is his word against two decorated cops. He claims the two cops framed him, but with no evidence to prove the men are corrupt, he is convicted of several charges and receives a 6-year prison sentence. Internal Affairs detective John Fitzgerald (Badja Djola) takes an interest in the situation, though he can't do anything due to the only evidence against the corrupt officers being hearsay.

Jimmie is completely unprepared for prison life. Early in his term he sees his cellmate murdered with a screwdriver and set on fire in the prison yard. Later he has a run in with the Black Guerrilla Family run by Jingles, who grabs his commissary purchases, daring him to resist. The gang beats Jimmie senseless and he spends several weeks recuperating. Jimmie knows he can't expect help from anyone, least of all the prison authorities, who punish him for not naming his assailants. Shrewd and respected inmate Virgil Cane (F. Murray Abraham) tells him he needs to "take care of his problem" with Jingles, but Jimmie resists the pressure to kill as long as he can. After Jingles forces him to witness the gang rape of another inmate, Jimmie knows he has no choice but to act.

Jimmie gets a plexiglas shank and stabs Jingles to death, with Virgil acting as lookout. The authorities know Jimmie did the killing but since they can't prove it, he spends three months in a windowless, subterranean solitary confinement. When he's released to the general population he is received as a minor hero for ridding the prison of Jingles. On the outside, Kate is causing trouble by pleading for a review of the case from anyone who might be able to help and is subsequently threatened by Parnell and Scalise. A visit with Fitzgerald goes nowhere, but when she angrily insults him, saying the two crooked cops are laughing at him, he's irritated and suspicious enough to confront Parnell and Scalise and demand that they leave her alone.

Before being paroled after three years served, Virgil suggests to Jimmie that he should take advantage of his prison contacts to get even with the detectives that framed him. But Jimmie just wants to regain his life on the outside and joyfully reunites with Kate. Prison life has hardened him and he warns Kate that in some ways, she no longer knows him. When he comes home to find Scalaise and Parnell in his living room, threatening him and Kate, Jimmie realizes their lives will never be their own while the detectives continue to hound them. Jimmie hates that his wife has been dragged into this violent world but she insists that she does know him, a good man who is only doing what he must. Kate visits Virgil in prison and asks for his help in getting evidence on the corrupt cops that the police can't ignore.

Virgil's outside contacts scam Parnell and Scalise into busting some "competition" that are in reality protected dealers of Donatelli. Fearing both Donatelli and Fitzgerald, the two cops only turn in a fraction of the seized drugs and decide to take the remaining huge haul out of state to start new lives, away from the threat of the mob and the law. Before they can leave town, they are robbed by masked "thieves", Jimmie and Malcolm (M.C. Gainey), another friend of Virgil. Malcolm calls the detectives and says he will swap the drugs for cash, Fitzgerald having finally been convinced to wire Jimmie and Malcolm to record the sting. In the middle of the handoff, Parnell attacks Malcolm and Jimmie is forced to hand over the drugs. Malcolm is shot and killed by Parnell. Fitzgerald then informs Parnell and Scalise that they have been busted and that they are about to be apprehended, however neither of them go down without a fight. Scalise attempts to run down Fitzgerald and Fitzgerald fires his weapon to defend himself. Scalise dies after crashing his car while trying to escape. Fitzgerald is injured in the confrontation and Jimmie chases Parnell, beating him bloody until Parnell pulls a knife. Jimmie wrests the knife away from Parnell and has the blade at his throat until Kate, who has been acting as the driver, begs Jimmie not to kill him and let the law take over. Jimmie eventually walks away from Parnell, who is then placed under arrest by his soon-to-be former colleagues.

The movie ends with Kate and Jimmie returning to a life they both deserve. Parnell, now a convict, is put into the general prison population. On entry to the prison tiers, Virgil calls attention to Parnell by yelling, "Hey, officer!" for all the other inmates to hear. Parnell, his face frozen in fear, looks up to the balcony where Virgil is smirking down at him. Jimmie is seen suited up and working again for the airline, finally getting his life back.

Cast

Production

Peter Yates later recalled, he "wasn't sure at all" about the script when he first read it. "I was worried about the violence. But what struck me was the quality of the writing in the prison scenes and the accurate observation of prison life. This seemed to me to be something I hadn't seen on the screen in a lot of prison movies." He said he also loved "what I call 'experience films.' By that I mean films that are about somebody caught up in one of those situations where you're left feeling, 'there but for the grace of God go I'." [2]

Related Research Articles

David Rasche is an American theater, film and television actor who is best known for his portrayal of the title character in the 1980s satirical police sitcom Sledge Hammer! Since then he has often played characters in positions of authority, in both serious and comical turns. In television he is known for his recurring performances in L.A. Law, Monk, The West Wing, Veep, and Succession.

<i>Knight Rider 2010</i> 1994 TV film directed by Sam Pillsbury

Knight Rider 2010 is a 1994 American made-for-television science fiction film for Universal Television's Action Pack loosely based on the television series Knight Rider.

Vic Mackey Fictional character in the television show The Shield

Victor Samuel Mackey, played by Michael Chiklis, is a fictional character and the protagonist of the highly acclaimed FX crime drama series The Shield, which ran for seven seasons. Mackey is portrayed as a corrupt and brutal detective in the Los Angeles Police Department. He leads a small anti-gang unit primarily tasked with curbing the rampant drug trade in the fictional Farmington district of Los Angeles. He commits several crimes throughout the series including drug dealing, extortion, police brutality, and murder. He is often depicted justifying his crimes as a means to an end. Despite his actions, Mackey considers himself a devoted father and family man.

Johnny Basil, a.k.a. Desmond "Zil" Mobay, played by Lance Reddick, is a fictional character on the HBO drama Oz.

<i>Heavens Prisoners</i> 1996 American film

Heaven's Prisoners is a 1996 American dramatic crime thriller film directed by Phil Joanou and starring Alec Baldwin, Kelly Lynch, Mary Stuart Masterson, Teri Hatcher and Eric Roberts. It is based on a Dave Robicheaux homonymous novel by James Lee Burke. Harley Peyton and Scott Frank wrote the screenplay.

<i>Whos the Man?</i> 1993 American film directed by Ted Demme

Who's the Man? is a 1993 thriller comedy film directed by Ted Demme in his feature film directing debut. The film stars Yo! MTV Raps hosts Doctor Dré and Ed Lover as its two main protagonists and features cameo appearances from some of the top rap/hip-hop acts of the time, including Busta Rhymes, Bushwick Bill, Guru, Eric B., House of Pain, Ice-T, Kris Kross, Queen Latifah, KRS-One, Run-D.M.C. And a young P-Lo from Kasualties Of Rhythm. The film is also the feature film debut of Terrence Howard.

<i>Gang Related</i> 1997 film directed by Jim Kouf

Gang Related is a 1997 American crime thriller film written and directed by Jim Kouf starring James Belushi, Tupac Shakur, Dennis Quaid, Lela Rochon, David Paymer and James Earl Jones. The film revolves around two corrupt cops who attempt to frame a homeless man for the murder of an undercover DEA agent they themselves had killed. The film, Shakur's last, was released a year after his death.

<i>The Super Cops</i> 1974 film by Gordon Parks

The Super Cops is a 1974 action adventure film directed by Gordon Parks and starring Ron Leibman and David Selby. The film is based on the book The Super Cops: The True Story of the Cops Called Batman and Robin by L. H. Whittemore. The film was released a few months after the successful cop movie Serpico.

<i>Fatal Beauty</i> 1987 film by Tom Holland

Fatal Beauty is a 1987 American action comedy thriller film directed by Tom Holland and starring Whoopi Goldberg as detective Rita Rizzoli and Sam Elliott. The screenplay was written by Hilary Henkin and Dean Riesner. The original music score was composed by Harold Faltermeyer, of Top Gun fame. The film was marketed with the tagline "An earthquake is about to hit L.A. It's called Detective Rita Rizzoli."

<i>Busting</i> 1974 film by Peter Hyams

Busting is a 1974 film directed by Peter Hyams in his theatrical directorial debut, starring Elliott Gould and Robert Blake as Los Angeles police detectives. It was the main inspiration for the cop series Starsky & Hutch, which premiered in 1975 and, as in this film, also featured Antonio Fargas.

Badja Medu Djola born Bernard Bradley, was an American actor from Brooklyn, New York. Djola appeared in 47 films and TV shows during his career.

Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities, the second series of the Nine Network crime drama series Underbelly, originally aired from 9 February 2009 to 4 May 2009. It is a thirteen-part series loosely based on real events that stemmed from the marijuana trade centred on the New South Wales town of Griffith. The timeline of the series is the years between 1976 and 1987. Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities primarily depicts the Mr. Asia drug syndicate and its influence on crime in Australia. Among the characters presented are real-life criminals Robert Trimbole, Terry Clark, George Freeman, Christopher Dale Flannery, Alphonse Gangitano and the Kane Brothers. The mini-series is a prequel to the 2008 production Underbelly, which was about the Melbourne gangland killings and forms part of the Underbelly series.

Joe Forrester is an American crime/drama television series, starring Lloyd Bridges as a uniformed foot patrol officer in a run-down neighborhood of Los Angeles. Patricia Crowley co-starred as Georgia Cameron, Joe's romantic interest. Former NYPD Detective Eddie Egan played Sgt. Bernie Vincent, Joe's supervisor. Dwan Smith played Jolene, a resident of the neighborhood Joe patrolled.

Joseph Jerome "Jerry" Scalise is a Chicago mobster and a high-ranking member of the Chicago Outfit criminal organization. He is most known for stealing the Marlborough diamond in London in 1980, and also for serving as a technical advisor on the 2009 film Public Enemies.

<i>The Racketeer</i> (novel) John Grisham novel

The Racketeer is a legal thriller novel written by John Grisham that was released on October 23, 2012 by Doubleday with an initial printing of 1.5 million copies. It was one of the best selling books of 2012 and spent several weeks atop various best seller lists.

The Kenyatta series is a four-volume urban fiction series by American author Donald Goines under the pseudonym of Al C. Clark. Goines released the books under a pseudonym on the request of his publisher, who wanted to avoid flooding the market with too many books under Goines's name and potentially undermining sales as well as to differentiate the books from Goines's "grittier" urban fiction novels.

Interrogation Room 109 is a 2015 American independent urban drama written and directed by Anthony Malachi and produced by O-Park Productionz, in association with Joey Grant Entertainment.

Louis Scarcella is a retired American NYPD detective who is known for framing dozens of innocent men for crimes they did not commit. He initially experienced notoriety during the "crack boom" of the 1980s-1990s. As a member of the Brooklyn North Homicide Squad, Scarcella, along with his longtime partner Stephen Chmil, built a reputation for obtaining convictions in difficult cases. More recently, Scarcella has been in the public eye due to a number of convictions having been overturned as a result of the detective's misconduct. As of July 2018, 14 men have had their convictions overturned as a result of Scarcella's involvement and between 40 and 70 investigations involving Scarcella, which led to convictions, are under review by the Kings County District Attorney's Office.

Jari Seppo Aarnio is the former head of Helsinki's anti-drugs police. He has been sentenced to jail for drug crimes, murder and other offences.

References

  1. "An Innocent Man (1989)". Box Office Mojo . Retrieved July 15, 2011.
  2. Disney bags Bullitt director; An Innocent Man latest turn for eclectic Yates Edmonton Journal 11 Oct 1989: C14.