Sam Landry is a writer of detective stories. He has had a tragedy occur in his real life. He uses his stories as a form of escape, and in order to cope. When things become too much for him, he writes himself into one of these and makes a change of sorts.
Ok, this was a really good story. Generally I don't like what the movies and television do with Stephen King stories and I had sworn off of them for ages. However, I am totally enjoying what I've seen thus far and Umney's Last Case is no exception. (I must admit that Crouch End was kinda strange but I liked it). Bill Macy was excellent in the dual role and I actually felt like I was reading a story. It was like seeing Stephen King himself writing and placing himself in the role of the character. The beginning caught me a little off guard, but that was ok, because it flowed right into the heart of the story and never once lost my interest. The ending was perfect Stephen King irony.
As far as alternate reality stories go, this is not a bad example. The writer showing up 'inside' the story is a very modernist, literary story-telling mechanism and it doesn't always work. In this story, it seems to work until you question the script, particularly the motives. Escaping into a simpler world may seem attrative, but a writer should know that there is always something more lurking underneath the fabric of the story. When even his wife knows about his fantasy about taking the place of his main character and when she is in agreement that the character would be preferable to the author, they both seem to forget that both are one and the same, so whatever the character could provide, the author 'should' be able to provide as well.
Being a lover of the “noir” genre and a huge fan of William H. Macy and of course Stephen King, I had high hopes for this episode.
They were met… sort of.
William H. Macy is superb, both as the detective and the writer. The plot moves along nicely. There’s that “noir” dialogue I love so much, the over the top situations and the beautiful “dames”. Nothing was missing.
When the writer comes in, things are well explained and his story maintained my interest.
I liked the premise of the story and the way they developed it.
The end however, felt a bit rushed. Disappointing. It didn’t deliver. It’s a shame but when the credits rolled, I felt a bit cheated.
Still a good try at adapting King.
Oh and Jacqueline McKenzie is absolutely gorgeous here. So pretty! So sexy!
Now, I've been a King reader for many years now, and any other King reader will know what I'm on about.
Stephen King always bases a character on himself (write what you know about, he was once told), and in this story it's blindingly obvious which character that is. This story twist around emotions, and not so much about trying to play with your mind, like the other ones in this series. Don't we all wish we could escape some how? Both the author and the detective are well portrayed, as is his wife. the story his simple and to the point, and reaches out to any viewer, right from the start. This is one of the reasons TV was invented.
Add together; the fictional world of 1950's private dick, a successful modern day writer affected by the tragic loss of his fun, throw in altering realities, a good dose of drama and Stephen King's style and you end up with this episode.
It is a very enjoyable way to spend an hour. One of the best told stories, expertly presented on the small screen. There actually isnt much to this story. Its not your regular whodunnit though you will find enough sadness and tragedy to keep you watching to see how events unfold.
It is the underlying complexity of the episode's reality though, that makes for an intriguing plot. Coupled with deep metiphorical meaning in every aspect of the story, from story background to characters, screenplay, dialogue, locations, etc - there is alot for those of us who dig this type of existential, philosphical story.
Macy is just superb playing both of the linked roles, carrying off both characters with aplomb, while drama of the unfolding situation and their fortures morph and gradually reverse bringing an ending full of resonance, yet gratifyingly unfinished.
I must point out though, that the beginning felt somewhat clumsy, overly energetic and rushed. However, looking back it feels very much in the style of the classic 50s/60s dectective whodunnits.... surreally so!
The middle act was totally different to the first, presenting the intriguing situation of writer meeting his creation and his creation realising his situation. The way King has Umney interpret modern day parphinaelia had me giggling.
Overall, this episode is more than a success and in essentially a series classic... due alot to Macy's acting abilities.
I wasn't impressed by this one, even with the always-great William H. Macy in multiple roles. I've always had problems with characters in stories that are supposed to move between the real world, and the fictional, and this one does no better than others.
I wasn't impressed by "Umney's Last Case", even with the always-great William H. Macy starring in multiple roles. I've always had logical problems (if that's the right word for it) with characters that are supposed to move between the real world and the fictional, and this one does no better than others that have come before it.
Truth be told, I can't say I enjoyed the original story itself, either. Noir has never been one of my favorite themes, and the attempt in this episode seems especially forced. I also didn't care for how easily Mrs. Landry seemed to accept that Umney was, in fact, Umney, as opposed to her own husband experiencing a schizophrenic episode.
The Bottom Line: Thank goodness this was Umney's Last Case.
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