Sunday, March 18, 2012

92 In The Shade Movie

This essay was first posted December 22nd 2007, a review of a classic Key West film that would make a pleasant afternoon's entertainment on these seasonably windy afternoons we are having this Spring in the Keys. In the Caribbean the strong winds in winter are known as The Christmas Trade Winds; here in the almost-Caribbean we have powerful Spring winds most years.

A sunny afternoon at home with one's feet up.

" I guess I've had an adventure. At least I moved to Key West. I thought I was leaving the real world behind." So says Peter Fonda's father William Hickey, in the movie 92 In The Shade, as he tries to dispense fatherly advice in the face of a threat against the life of his son. The film was made in 1975 on location in Key West, which is probably its greatest claim to fame. The plot is simple, the pacing languid and the characters not too complex, which happens to work well enough for the setting. Some parts of the film are depressingly true to 21st century life in Key West, and the old saying about the more things change the more they stay the same comes ringing through. I noticed the Pirate Torture Museum of Key West as a backdrop in one night scene, so I guess the Pirates in Key West myth has been propagated for some considerable time, and visitors have been bamboozled by that one for decades apparently. The waters, the fishing the beaches are all in place as they always have been. The streets are similar, the houses and greenery lining them are there and the essential quality of other worldliness that attracts people to Key West is in evidence. Old bars, long gone will cheer the hearts of old timers, but my brief visit in 1981 wasn't stamped strongly enough to enable me to remember much. I think the other side of Key West, the drab, hard scrabble, know-nothing booziness is clearly portrayed in a way that looks cool on film but reminds one that life in Key West has long been nasty and tough. The plot is simple enough. Tom Skelton is a talented flats fisherman and gets hazed by the old timers on the dock who are threatened by his potential. Warren Oates plays Nichol Dance, Fishing Guide and all around nasty guy. Tom doesn't take kindly to the practical joke Nichol plays on him, and overreacts to establish his turf and the retaliation spirals down from there. Throw in Burgess Meredith as his weird old monied grandfather, a bra-less girlfriend, Elizabeth Ashley and a crusty Greek Chorus played by Harry Dean Stanton and all Key West needs to be is a pretty backdrop. That's what its about really, its just a B movie set in the Fabulous Florida Keys, and the locations are real even if moved around a little.


caddis said...

The girlfriend was played by Margot Kidder. E. Ashley was the baton twirling wife of Harry Dean Stanton character. Some backstory on this movie about the author Tom McGuane who wrote the novel on which movie is based and Peter Fonda's wife / girlfriend. I can never remember the details but one of your blog readers will know.

Anonymous said...

You should read the book Mile Marker 0. It tells about those days in KW and in Livingston MT.Tom McGuane's 1st wife was Becky who then married Fonda and lived south of Livingston, then Tom got married to Margot and lived on a ranch south of Livingston where Rancho Deluxe was filmed, then divorced, then got married to Jimmy Buffett's sister. Peter Fonda got a divorce last year from Becky and married someone else.
By the way, a new biography of Richard Brautigan was just published this week and should also tell about Richard's time in KW and Livingston (it's over 800 pages long!).

Bob from Livingston Montana