Sunday, November 29, 2009

Don't Make a Scene: Edge of Darkness (1985)

The Story: Opposites attract, they say, on the sub-atomic level. They don't come more opposite than Ronnie Craven and Darius Jedburgh. Where Craven is thin and angular and still, Jedburgh is large and in constant motion (it was hard for me to find clear pictures of him in the screen-captures). Craven is contained and Jedburgh expansive. Craven is British and Jedburgh....

Well, Jedburgh is a Texan.

They're also attacking the same problem from opposite sides. Craven is investigating the murder of his daughter, Emma. Jedburgh is collaborating with British Intelligence on investigating the Island's burgeoning nuclear industry. Craven doesn't yet know that the two investigations are related. The two are poles apart. Put together, though, they'll be dangerous. And they'll cause some damage.

But here, at their first meeting, they're sizing each other up, and in this episode called "Into the Shadows" of the British mini-series "Edge of Darkness," Craven is just beginning to see that there's more to Emma's murder than official channels can tell. And Jedburgh will provide the first details. The title "In the Shadows" refers to Craven first foray into the dark unseen corners of the investigation, but it could also be called "Through the Looking Glass" for it introduces him to "the new CIA" under Reagan, and the outlandish Jedburgh is a large white rabbit leading him along, a fat and sassy Cheshire cat, grinning. But he could also be Joseph Campbell's boon-giver by the road.

It was the roll of a lifetime for Baker, as Craven was for Bob Peck. Peck would go on to do features (like the dinosaur hunter in "Jurassic Park"), but for Baker, it was a resurgence of his back-burner career—nobody who's seen "Edge of Darkness" forgets Darius Jedburgh.

Now, the singing. The detective and the spy are sizing each other up: Jedburgh's mostly made up his mind, but Craven is unsure and suspicious. It is their common interest in country music that provides the first tenuous bond. And anyone who's sat through a Howard Hawks movie knows that once two people start harmonizing, they've put aside their differences and have started working together as a team, a combo.* They'll sing together again, farther towards the end of the road. But for now, they're seeing how they work together, how much the other knows. They're seeing how things play.

"Edge of Darkness" was filmed for British television, so scenes were shot economically and ususally in a couple of "takes." You'll notice repeated shots, especially the later one of "Caisson" Kelley, which still shows Craven standing next to him, even though the character is no longer there—he has since seated. Don't let it distract you. "Edge of Darkness" is quality work.

The Set-Up: Inspector Ronnie Craven (Bob Peck) is investigating the death of his daughter Emma (Joanne Whalley), which was initially thought to be an intercepted attempt on himself. But, things are becoming more complicated. Craven's digging leads him to suspect that it was Emma who was the target, plus he's getting inquiries from MI-5, Scotland Yard and there is an interesting government file on his daughter about her ties to an environmental group called "Gaea," and her break-in at a nuclear waste plant. He gets a phone-call from the man who has the file: a CIA operative named Darius Jedburgh (Joe Don Baker).

Action!




CRAVEN: Mr. Jedburgh?

JEDBURGH: Mr. Craven!

JEDBURGH: Darius Jedburgh at your service, sir. Come, join us!

JEDBURGH: Here, pull up a chair! Join the party.

CRAVEN: No Harcourt?

JEDBURGH: No Harcourt, hell. You'll find him over at Fulham, with his leg over some law student.

JEDBURGH:(shouts to the kitchen) Silvio?
CRAVEN: What about Pendleton?

JEDBURGH: Ah, it's past Pendleton's bed-time. You know he returns every night to the Abbey, where they lock him up in one of those tombs? They only let him out when the kingdom's threatened.

JEDBURGH: Now, Craven, I want you to meet a couple friends of mine. This here's...

JEDBURGH: Col. Robert G. Kelley...

JEDBURGH: ...known in the service as "Caisson."

JEDBURGH: An' over here...

JEDBURGH: ...you have Col. Mike Merriwether, also known as "Mad Mike."

JEDBURGH: They's just got back from South America, havin' a little celebration dinner here. Silvio! Drink for our guest.

JEDBURGH: C'mon, Craven. C'mon have a seat. Take a load off. Enjoy yourself.

Craven sits.
JEDBURGH: There ya go.

Merriwether wakes up.
MERRIWETHER: Who's this?
JEDBURGH: Craven, Mike.
MERRIWETHER: He showed up at last!
JEDBURGH: That's right, Mike.

Merriwether scrutinizes Craven. He is very drunk.

MERRIWETHER: I jes' wanna say this, Craven. I was damned sorry to hear about your daughter.

JEDBURGH: A
Macallen.

JEDBURGH: Hope it's to your liking.

Craven drinks.

CRAVEN: Your friends are stationed in London?

JEDBURGH: No, sir.

JEDBURGH: Col. Kelley here's from Dallas.

JEDBURGH: You even been to Dallas, Craven?

CRAVEN: No, sir.

JEDBURGH: It's where we shoot our Presidents. The Jews got their Calvary, but we got Dealey Plaza. Mad Mike here's from Austin.

JEDBURGH: It's the home of country music.
CRAVEN: According to Waylon Jennings.

Merriwether perks up.
MERRIWETHER: Jennings. Who the hell's Jennings?

JEDBURGH: The country singer, Mike. Mr. Craven, here...

JEDBURGH: ...is a connosiuer of our country music. That is, according to Harcourt.

JEDBURGH: You know, Waylon and Willie. Willie Nelson.

JEDBURGH: Huh. Regular outlaw, huh? If his friends...

JEDBURGH: ...are to be believed.

CRAVEN: He just made a new record.

JEDBURGH: Nah, he "cut a disc," Craven. They may "make records" in London, but we "cut discs" in Texas. Cheers.

Craven drinks.

JEDBURGH: What was that song Willie put out about...uh..a year? "Time of the Preacher." Somethin' about the year of '01.

JEDBURGH: You familiar with the words at all?

CRAVEN: (recites) "It was the time of the preacher in the year of oh-one and just when you think it's all over it has only begun."

JEDBURGH: No, no Craven. "Now the lesson's all over and the killing's begun."

CRAVEN: Comes later.
JEDBURGH: Alrighty.

JEDBURGH: What comes in between? What, wait. Here it goes...uh...(sings) "But he cannot forgive her."

JEDBURGH: (sings) "Though he tried and he tried"
CRAVEN: (speaks)"And he tried."

JEDBURGH: That's right. "an he tried."
CRAVEN: (sings) "And the halls of his memory/still echo her eyes..."

JEDBURGH: Yeah.
CRAVEN:(sings) "And he cried like a baby..."

CRAVEN: (sings) "An he screamed like a panther/ in the middle of the night/ Then he saddled his pony..."

CRAVEN: (sings) "And he went for a ride."

CRAVEN: (sings) "It was the (Jedburgh joins in) time of the preacher in the year of oh-one."

CRAVEN/JEDBURGH: (sings) "Now the lesson is over..."

CRAVEN/JEDBURGH: (sings)..."And the killin's begun."

Jedburgh chuckles

JEDBURGH: You know what the term "preacher" signifies, don't ya Craven?

CRAVEN: "gun."
JEDBURGH: Yeah, a gun.

JEDBURGH: The "time of the preacher" is the time of the gun.

JEDBURGH: In the year of oh-one.

JEDBURGH: And when you think it's all over, it has only begun.

Craven looks at him.

JEDBURGH: Quite a thought. Something we ought to reflect upon.

Merriwether collapses on the table with a bang.

JEDBURGH: I think we oughta get these boys to bed, Craven. I guess they're all tuckered out.

JEDBURGH: We used to have this gun-sight in Viet Nam with an image intensifier.

JEDBURGH: Ya with me, Craven?
CRAVEN: (watching Jedburgh's driving) M-hm.

JEDBURGH: That's how I saw you on that little screen tonight. Like a sittin' duck. (chuckles) Harcourt asked me to give you sight of a file. Well, I wasn't too keen on it..''til I saw ya on TV.

CRAVEN: You work for the CIA?

JEDBURGH: Yes, sir!

Craven shakes his head.

CRAVEN: I find that hard to believe.
JEDBURGH: (chuckles) Oh. Time was when the station was full of joggers in Brooks Brothers suits. With Reagan in the White House, we get to keep a higher profile.

CRAVEN: White Rolls and Stetsons?

JEDBURGH: We're just blendin' in with the surroundings, son, look around. Like Uncle Ho says, "Blend in with the surroundings." You play golf, Craven?

CRAVEN: Mm-mm.
JEDBURGH: It's a great game. Closest thing I got to a religion. I really believe that God's a golfer.

JEDBURGH: That offend you, Craven?



"Edge of Darkness"

Words by
Troy Kennedy-Martin

Pictures by
Andrew Dunn and Martin Campbell

I'm pleased to be able to say "Edge of Darkness" is available (finally in the States!) on DVD from BBC Home Video.

* The videos below are of the scene from the series, but also another musical collaboration—between the heretofore bickering gunfighters played by Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson in Howard Hawks' "Rio Bravo." For now, differences have been put aside—there is harmony and teamwork. Finally, I've provided the trailer for the upcoming "Edge of Darkness" feature, directed by the series director Martin Campbell, but starring Mel Gibson as Craven and Ray Winstone as Jedburgh. It doesn't look hopeful.








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