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WAYNE CRAWFORD IS 'JAKE SPEED' ALSO STARRING KAREN KOPINS

Wayne Crawford & Karen Kopins in JAKE SPEED Year: 1986
The plot of ROMANCING THE STONE involves a mousy female Romance/Adventure Western novelist living sad and single in Manhattan who, after her pretty, footloose blond sister is kidnapped, goes on an action-packed trip with a flawed yet dashing, handsome maverick who looks like her fictional hero, but only in silhouette...

Up close, what New Yorker Karen Kopins (Jim Carrey's girl-next-door love interest in ONCE BITTEN) sees in supposed paperback icon JAKE SPEED, played by co-writer and producer Wayne Crawford (along with VALLEY GIRL producing partner Andrew Lane), is a scruffy con man: he and his partner, Dennis Christopher's Desmond, tricked her into thinking they could find her kidnapped blond sister... A very familiar plot-line only a year following the Michael Douglas/Kathleen Turner smash hit.

Lovely starlet Karen Kopins peaks out in JAKE SPEED
In JAKE SPEED, the action occurs in pockets on the way to the villain's mansion where American slave girls are sold directly from a plush living room – including the snatched little sis of Kopin's passive 27-year-old, Margaret...

This happens after an hour of hit/miss humor centering around the anti-chemistry between the title hero and his reluctant damsel, far from being distressed and basically carrying the movie, practically on her own – there's hardly a minute without her presence on-screen but there's plenty of time, including the fifteen minute New York setup, without Crawford's Jake, who resembles a leading man version of character-actor Ron Silver, semi-fitting the role as an instigator of circumstance, yet he never really, truly feels like the kind of leading man the ingenue, or the audience, can be completely safe with or entertained by – although he does have enough sneaky charm for Kopins to play off.

Wayne Crawford, who died in May, 2016, takes aim
The film's official summary goes like this: "In a world where, unbeknownst to the public, all famous pulp fiction heroes are actually real, one of them – Jake Speed, agrees to..."

And so on (although she agrees to the quest, not him). There are references to Don Pendleton's best selling Mack Bolan and the previous year's daring-do adaptation, Remo Williams – unlike these fellas, Speed was created for the movie, and it's actually more mysterious if we didn't know whether Crawford's playing an ambitious charlatan with a heart of gold, an actual pulp hero come to life, that character's creator, author or... what exactly? One scene provides a literary clue when his personal Dr. Watson, Dennis Christopher, is busy on a typewriter while Speed and Margaret bond – funny thing, Crawford and his skinny sidekick look about as equally intrepid, only one has a world-weary gaze and a rugged near-beard. Perhaps there's an intriguing story behind all this – a bonafide writer and producer attempting to make himself a cinematic hero. And while not a blockbuster or even a cult film, the movie is actually pretty good – in fact, if you let it, JAKE SPEED can be a fun and energetic escape from mainstream vehicles...

Johnny Hurt's Got His Gun
w. Lee Purcell, Valley Girl
A New World Pictures picture, sans former exec Roger Corman, this low-budget ride doesn't seem constrained by a meager budget...

That is, except for the glossy, florid, synthesized score, representing the mid-eighties in the worst way and not fitting with the macho bedlam. But the real problem is the time spent on John Hurt as the quirky villain, a dapper and twisted millionaire slaver living large in Africa, where a lot of the film takes place, outside and in...

Obviously wanting to get their money's worth with a "name" like Hurt, the third act drags but is made up for during the genuinely bombastic finale – after Crawford and Kopins chew their way through ropes to free each other (like Woody Allen and Mia Farrow in BROADWAY DANNY ROSE), it's apparent the overdrive of machine guns firing within a crowded airfield, along with torpedo launchers and small planes and buildings exploding, makes up for the boring parts. But after watching JAKE twice, even the meantime kinda works.
Wayne Crawford enters the scene of WHITE GHOST: For THAT review click this link
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