People don’t bring up James Foley’s excellent adaptation of “After Dark, My Sweet” often enough, as far as I’m concerned. It’s one of those lean, unfussy films that lurks at the periphery of our memory, always being passed over for something flashier or more easily digested. But it’s a terrific example of sun-bleached noir, with a terrific performance from Jason Patrick and strong, complex support from Rachel Ward and Bruce Dern.
I’ve been thinking about it again because Mike D’Angelo writes about the film in depth today for the A.V. Club, in his latest “Scenic Routes” column, and opens with a variation on the sentiment I expressed above: This is a great picture, you should see this. I think that’s what film critics are supposed to do; we make compelling arguments for the films we want to champion, and smack down the unworthy distractions that get between those films and their potential audience.
Okay, that’s a little hyperbolic; criticism doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. But sometimes it feels like it is … especially when you realize a movie like “After Dark, My Sweet” has been knocking around for two full decades without ever quite getting its due. And that’s a proper shame.