Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang: Tequila Sunrise

If, like me, you’re a sucker for beautiful dames, wise-cracking guys, long shadows, convoluted plots and endless cigarettes you’ll probably love Tequila Sunrise; a film prominent in the resurgence of film noir in the late 1980s.Some 30 years after the genre’s heyday, noir came roaring back with a vengeance in the VHS era, giving a new generation of movie buffs their first glimpses of a more intriguing kind of thriller, where beautiful people trade razor sharp barbs and share spine-tingling kisses, all backed by a soaring saxophone soundtrack. Besamé Mucho!Written and directed by the legendary Robert Towne Tequila Sunrise stars Michelle Pfeiffer, Mel Gibson, Kurt Russell and Raul Julia. Mel and Kurt are old friends from high school, and have kept in touch for years, despite the fact Mel is a retired drug dealer and Kurt is a cop with the narcotics division of the LAPD.Enter Michelle Pfeiffer: and her entrance is typically classy too, even if we don’t see her at first. Mel is busy doing some drug-related business, but he stops to confirm his reservation at a restaurant and on the other line of the pay phone we hear the voice of Michelle Pfeiffer’s Jo Ann. Cue your typical sultry love triangle, with Gibson and Russell set to go head to head for the affections of La Pfeiffer.To cut to the chase I’ll often jump straight to chapter 12 of the DVD where Russell and Pfeiffer share a kiss so steamy and unexpected, it may take your breath away. On a rainy night in a dingy wine cellar, restaurateur Pfeiffer is trying to move a barrel from beneath a leaking roof. Ever the gentleman, Kurt comes to her aid, but ends up getting a soaking. Hit the saxophone music, as Kurt suddenly grabs Michelle and they kiss passionately. The scene fades out…Before long Gibson’s Mac and Pfeiffer’s Jo Ann have their “moment.” During small talk Pfeiffer makes a comment and Gibson takes offense, so Michelle apologises. Now it’s Mel’s turn to be embarrassed, so he proceeds to gently kiss Michelle, the soft-rock music swells again and they’re destined for the hot-tub.As white sheets billow in the background, Mel and Michelle suddenly explode from the water, locked in a lustful embrace. Had they get lost in the hidden depths of the hot-tub?  How long had they held their breath? I still wonder.We watch the liaison reflected in the water, their silhouetted figures masked by steam. Gibson stands and sweeps Michelle up, before pulling white sheets over their drenched bodies. It is sweltering, but par for the course, given the decade.In true 1980’s style, the film ends with a freeze-frame. Once again Gibson and Pfeiffer are locked in a passionate embrace, and of course, they’re both soaking wet. Kurt Russell looks on as the odd man out, frozen in a moment when Michelle’s lips were never more alluring, Mel Gibson’s eyes were never bluer, and those California sunsets were never hotter. It doesn’t get more 80s than this.

This post is part of The Kurt Russell Blogathon.



Filed under Blogathon, Feature

18 responses to “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang: Tequila Sunrise

  1. RB

    All hail the 80s!

  2. Pfabulous post, Paul. “Exploding” out of the hot tub is exactly how I’ve always described that scene. Definitely one of Michelle’s more provocative love scenes. Russell is magnificent here, and I’ve always been sad that Gibson winds up winning Michelle’s heart in the end. To me, she and Russell had a more interesting spark.

    And, holy crap, there’s a Kurt Russell blogathon?? I would have loved to participate. If it runs for another day or two, I may be able to do a short post. How does one go about participating in this blogathon?

    • Thanks my pfriend. Tequila Sunrise is pretty steamy and Michelle never looked better, filmed by the great Conrad Hall. I’m getting all hot and bothered just thinking about puckering up with La Pfeiffer.
      I’ve added a link to the Kurt Russell Blogathon, just click on the banner at the bottom of the post and it should direct you there. It runs until Wednesday, so I hope you can find time to get involved.

    • Love you to join in if you interested, we’re running for the next three days!

      • Thank you, I very much wanted to join your blogathon! Unfortunately I couldn’t find the time to tackle a Russell piece. But I’ll try to look for future blogathons you may run, and join those!

  3. Hi there, just found you written your post – would you like me to add it today or tomorrow Paul?

  4. Lovely, LOVELY (and yes I did mean capitals) post and so this now has to be seen, sounds 80s to a tea right down to that sax soundtrack. Thanks so much for bringing Kurt with your Michelle to my blogathon with Return to the 80s… so want to know if this bros before hoes film!

  5. Great post 🙂 Once again, do not delete this blog entry cause I love it 🙂 Intriguing to hear you write about Tequila Sunrise, which was writer turned director Robert Towne’s second film as a filmmaker (the first was 1982’s Personal Best). This one is not bad at all and one of the main selling points of the film (aside from the three lead actors) is Conrad L. Hall’s visually stunning cinematography that gives it that modern day Neo-noir look. You know what is interesting? Walter Hill’s Extreme Prejudice came out a year earlier and it featured Nick Notte and Powers Boothe as two old friends on opposite sides of the law: cop (Nolte) and drug dealer (Boothe). The only difference here is that the lead character is a retired drug dealer (Gibson) and his old friend is a cop (Russell). Pfeiffer’s entrance in this film is once again unforgettable as are those love scenes. And yes, those freeze frames are truly eighties and I mean that as a compliment. In retrospect, 1988 was Michelle Pfeiffer’s field year. She played Angela DeMarco in the very funny Married to the Mob, Madame Marie de Tourvel in Dangerous Liaisons and Jo Ann Vallenari in Tequila Sunrise (this film). Quite a year and she was Oscar nominated for that second title. Here is another interesting bit of trivia: Budd Boetticher (director of celebrated B-Westerns with Randolph Scott) plays a Judge 🙂 Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

    • Extreme Prejudice sounds interesting, you know I love Walter Hill and it was written by John Milius who directed Big Wednesday. I’m just looking at Conrad Hall’s filmography, he was cinematographer on so many of my favourites: Cool Hand Luke, Hell in the Pacific, Fat City, Electra Glide in Blue and The Professionals.
      I’m so glad he got to film Michelle Pfeiffer, and he was nominated for an Academy Award for his work in Tequila Sunrise. From 1988 to 1995 or so when Pfeiffer was 29 – 35 or 36. my goodness, it was jaw-dropping. and thanks for the Budd Boetticher trivia as well, your comments are always an education.

  6. Oh my! This one sounds great! Can’t believe I missed it. But definitely time to change that…I’ll keep you posted…

  7. Pingback: Escape to Day 2 of the Kurt Russell Blogathon – Realweegiemidget Reviews Films TV Books and more

  8. Pingback: Day 2 of the Kurt Russell Blog-a-Thon | Return to the 80s

  9. Can’t believe I missed this one back in the day. It looks steamy and romantic, with great music and attractive stars of the 1980s. I never stopped being a Mel Gibson fan, have always been crazy about Kurt and fell in love with Pfeiffer in The Fabulous Baker Boys. She still looks incredible, by the way, in the Orient Express remake.

    Great article, you made me want to finally see this!
    – C

    • Welcome and thanks for the comment Christopher. For me Tequila Sunrise is one of those films that has always lingered in the recesses of my mind. Pfeiffer was smoking hot, and Kurt Russell and Mel Gibson have such a similar on-screen persona I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d been equally convincing had they swapped places. But why play fantasy movie league when you have the real thing?

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