Undercover Blues

1983 Directed by Herbert Ross. Starring Kathleen Turner, Dennis Quaid, Fiona Shaw, Stanley Tucci, Larry Miller, Obba Babatunde.

REVIEWED By Hollis Chacona, Fri., Sept. 17, 1993

When I was a kid, my mom would pop up a grocery bag full of popcorn, let us each pick a can from the tantalizing array of Shasta soda pop flavors, pile us all into our blue Impala convertible and head for the drive-in where, it seemed, a new Doris Day/Rock Hudson movie played each week. I loved those goofy movies filled with Doris's righteous indignation and gooey close-ups, Rock's suave pretty boy sneers and Madison Avenue glibness, bumbling crooks and teased-hair temptresses. But then, I also loved the Shasta Black Cherry soda pop I chose to wash down my popcorn. Undercover Blues's pairing of Turner and Quaid as Jane and Jeff Blue is meant, I suspect, to have more of a Nick and Nora Charles/Thin Man magic to it, but instead it falls somewhere between that wittily urbane duo and the sophisticated but mundane Rock and Doris. I'm not certain whether that's due to the leads or to the determinedly cheery direction Ross gives this caper, but Undercover Blues has a weird retro feel to it. American superspies Jane and Jeff have taken some time off to enjoy parenthood and a vacation in New Orleans. On a mission to procure formula (for baby Jane), Jeff takes on a couple of street muggers with one baby behind his back. His offhand competence earns him the fury and film-long vengeance of the self-proclaimed Muerte (Tucci), a leather-clad grandiose hood whom Jeff insists on calling Morty. Proving further that their vacation is no getaway, the couple is lured back to their calling (no lofty patriotism involved here, rather an extra bonus and extended maternity leave do the trick) to once again outwit their chief nemesis Novacek (Shaw). The action and intrigue is secondary to the players, however, and this movie is chock-full of hilarious performances. Turner, though as dewy-eyed as Doris Day, proves again that she is a comedienne to reckon with, and Quaid's playboy-tamed-only-by-domestic-bliss nonchalance is nearly as well played. Their repartee, while not up to the standards of Nick and Nora, is fast and funny and good-natured. In fact, this whole movie is so good-natured, I think I might have enjoyed a Shasta Black Cherry soda pop with my popcorn. Well, maybe some berry-flavored sparkling water…

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Herbert Ross Films

Marjorie Baumgarten, Aug. 9, 2001

The Owl and the Pussycat
A sensible double bill with Born Yesterday, the story is about a streetwise prostitute and a sheltered intellectual. Streisand is very funny in this reworking ...

Marjorie Baumgarten, May 11, 2000

More by Hollis Chacona

July 14, 2000

Dill Scallion

Oct. 8, 1999


Undercover Blues, Herbert Ross, Kathleen Turner, Dennis Quaid, Fiona Shaw, Stanley Tucci, Larry Miller, Obba Babatunde

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle