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92 In The Shade

    Mark Tolch
    Senior Member

  • 92 In The Shade

    Released By: Scorpion Releasing
    Released On: June 21, 2016.
    Director: Thomas McGuane
    Cast: Peter Fonda, Warren Oates, Margot Kidder, Burgess Meredith, Harry Dean Stanton
    Year: 1975
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Film:

    Thomas McGuane brings his 1973 novel 92 In The Shade to the big screen to share the story of three very different men who captain fishing expeditions in the Florida Keys. Nichol Dance (Warren Oates), a dangerous man with a matching personality knows where the good fishing spots are, but is also known to carry a Colt revolver and may have once killed a man; Carter (Harry Dean Stanton) is a gruff old hand with a reliable boat, but so laid back that his wife has been known to showcase her baton-twirling skills to complete strangers without provocation; and Tom Skelton (Peter Fonda) is the new kid in town, hoping to learn from the masters, but still not wealthy enough to own his own boat, despite coming from money. No, Tom seems content to cruise through life in low gear, a perfect fit for his bra-less, High Life-chugging girl, Miranda (Margot Kidder).

    While Dance and Carter's respective dedication to their craft appear to contradict Tom's relaxed nonchalance, a chain of events is set off when the new guy takes a practical joke played on him by the two guides as a personal insult. Retaliating out of anger, Tom torches Dance's boat, effectively preventing the gun-toting captain from making a living. A quick intervention from Tom's eccentric grandfather (Burgess Meredith) assures Dance that the arson will be covered 100% by insurance, buying Tom some time, with Dance conceding that he'll let the younger man live...if he promises to never guide an expedition again. Tom's agreement to the terms satisfies Dance's need for revenge temporarily, but he quickly violates this gentleman's agreement by borrowing the money from his grandfather to build his own boat.

    Dance, obviously not pleased with this latest development...including the fact that Tom's commissioning of a new boat from the only builder in town has prevented him from getting his own craft replaced...decides that he'll let the younger man live, as long as he follows through on his promise to never use his new boat to take clients out fishing. But the arrival of a wealthy stranger (Joe Spinell) looking for a game fish to put on his wall changes the game completely when Tom agrees to take him out fishing, forcing Dance's hand and sending him out into the isolated waters to set Tom straight.

    A bizarre collection of odd characters and disarmingly weird situations, 92 In The Shade needs to be seen more than once to be fully appreciated. McGuane's direction mimics the hot, lazy setting of the Keys, meandering along and bringing strangeness at every turn with a casual nature that suggests everything is completely normal. The first thirty minutes of the film borders on confounding, leaving the viewer to wonder who these people are, where they come from, and why are their actions not raising alarm bells of any kind?

    Somehow, this approach completely works for the film, with the outstanding cast committing fully to the delivery of the program, and comedy emerges; not full-on, gut-busting laughter, but more of a slightly befuddled sense of amusement; that offsets the very real danger that exists throughout the running time. Fonda's "Whatever, man" attitude in the face of Oates' amenable yet respect-demanding threat is an example of this confused mirth, but it's also bolstered by the more outrageous humour of Burgess Meredith's dialogue and unconventional exchanges with both his secretary and his off-kilter son (William Hickey). Throw in the very sad situation involving Harry Dean Stanton's unfaithful wife, add a cheerleader outfit and baton...not to mention a speedo-wearing Joe Spinell, and you have a recipe for a thoroughly enjoyable in a what-the-hell-am-I-watching kind of way cinematic adventure.


    Scorpion Releasing brings 92 In The Shade to DVD in a 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer that looks great, with a healthy amount of grain and detail running throughout. Though there are very few instances of dirt and damage that show up, and some scenes do appear a little on the soft side, skin tones are natural and the colour palette is satisfying. No instances of compression artifacts or other transfer issues were noted.

    Audio is provided courtesy of an English Dolby Digital 2.0 track that is a little less impressive than the video transfer, mainly due to what sounds like compressed and clipped dialogue and occasional sibilance, as well as some hiss. Though it will more than likely be noticed by even the untrained ear, it doesn't ruin the viewing of the film, as the dialogue is still coherent for the most part, and is still a very listenable track.

    No subtitles are provided.

    A Trailer Reel of 5 Scorpion Releasing titles is the only supplement on the disc.

    The Final Word:

    A film that could only have been made in the 70's, 92 In The Shade is a strange slice of cinema with some exceptional performances.

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