Combustible Celluloid
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With: James Woods, Brian Dennehy, Victoria Tennant, Allison Balson, Paul Shenar, George Coe, Anne Pitoniak
Written by: Larry Cohen
Directed by: John Flynn
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 95
Date: 09/27/1987

Best Seller (1987)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Throwing the Book

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Some crime films don't really attempt to be much more than an entertaining "B" movie, which is the case with Best Seller (1987). Brian Dennehy plays a big city cop who, after surviving an armed robbery of the police evidence room, publishes a best-selling crime novel. While struggling to write a follow-up, he's approached by the incredibly charming, snaky Cleve (James Woods). Cleve claims to have been a hired killer for a huge corporate bigwig, and offers to give Dennis all the dirt he needs for new book. Of course, this gets them into no end of trouble.

Screenwriter Larry Cohen was already a legendary "B" movie director with things like Black Caesar (1973), It's Alive (1974), and The Stuff (1984) on his resume, while director John Flynn had made the drive-in classic Rolling Thunder (1977). Together they concentrate on character interactions, shootouts, and chases, with things like plot and motivation taking a back seat. The slick, 1980s design does the rest. Ben E. King sings a particularly cheesy end-credits theme song.

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