Awesome ’80s in April: The Bedroom Window (1987)

the bedroom window poster

After a work party, Terry (Steve Guttenberg) talks Sylvia (Isabelle Hubbert), his boss’ wife, into going back to his apartment and to bed with him. After the lovemaking, Terry goes to the bathroom. Sylvia hears a noise outside. She sees a man attacking a woman. She struggles with opening the window and the noise startles the man, and he runs away.

She thinks about calling the cops to tell them what she’s seen, but she fears this will lead to her husband finding out about the affair. The next day they learn a different woman was raped and murdered not far from the apartment, just 30 minutes after the attack Sylvia witnessed.

Still fearing retribution from the husband, but now believing the man Sylvia saw was likely the man who murdered the other woman, Terry decides to call the police and pretend he was the witness. Sylvia gives him the details of the attacker and at first, the conversation with the police goes well.

Naturally, there are complications.

In order to arrest the killer they need more information from Terry, but he can’t give that information because he really didn’t witness anything. More murders occur and Terry’s desire to tell the real truth increases, but Sylvia remains unwilling to come forward. Terry does some investigating on his own and meets Denise (Elizabeth McGovern) the girl who was attacked outside his apartment.

The Bedroom Window follows some standard Noir tropes but with interesting modifications. Steve Guttenberg is either a brilliant choice for the lead actor, or an awful one. I know him from the Police Academy movies and Three Men and a Baby. He has such a goofy, gentle presence it is difficult to believe he could seduce someone like Isabelle Hubbert. Though it is quite easy to believe he could be the typical noir patsy.

But that’s just it, Sylvia isn’t the typical femme fatale. She isn’t involved in the murders. She doesn’t set Terry up. She simply witnessed one assault. She does become a cold fish the more Terry tries to convince her to come forward as a witness, but before that, she seems like a lady in a loveless marriage looking for some fun.

Denise is an interesting monkey wrench in the proceedings as well. She becomes a secondary love interest to Terry, but she’s also deep into the mix of trying to figure out who the killer is. She seems more out of a detective story – the plucky kid who helps the detective – than a film noir. She’s also the only actor who even attempts a Baltimore accent which is kind of distracting.

Terry makes idiotic decision after idiotic decision which digs him deeper into trouble. The film never quite makes me believe he’s as dumb as his actions make him out to be which caused me to yell at the TV more than once.

Director Curtis Hanson, who would later make LA Confidential one of the all-time great neo-noirs, keeps things moving briskly and with great style. The Bedroom Window isn’t great, but it is well worth watching if you dig neo-noirs with a slice of erotic thrillers thrown in.

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