Kathryn BigelowUSA102 minutes1989ColourEnglish
Not since Samuel Fuller kitted out Barbara Stanwyck with a six-shooter in Forty Guns has a director so slyly exploited the phallic properties of the all-American firearm as does Bigelow in her exhilarating third feature. Jamie Lee Curtis stars as a rookie cop who unintentionally stokes the passions of a slick sociopath (Ron Silver) when he witnesses her blow away a thief during a corner-store robbery. Pocketing the perp's handgun, Silver commits a series of murders that he intends as love letters to Curtis, whom he is simultaneously wooing in more conventional fashion as well. Foregrounding the latent (and sometimes not so latent) gender codes and sexual tensions that fuel the cops-and-crooks genre, Bigelow continually upends notions and representations of masculinity and femininity — as in the infamous male-drag climax in which Curtis dons another officer's oversized clothes for her final confrontation with the killer — without sacrificing any of the genre's seamy and seedy pleasures.