Director – Paul Aaron, Screenplay – Patricia Resnick, Based on the Novel Marion’s Wall by Jack Finney, Producer – Carter de Haven, Photography – Fred Shuler, Music – George Delerue, Ghost Visual Effects – Bill Taylor, Production Design – John Lloyd. Production Company – Aurora/Orion/Elsboy Entertainment
Glenn Close (Jan Chaney/Maxie Maloney), Mandy Patinkin (Nicky Chaney), Ruth Gordon (Mrs Lavin), Barnard Hughes (Bishop Campbell), Valerie Curtin (Ophelia Sheffer), Googy Gress (Father Jerome)
While renovating their new house, husband and wife Nicky and Jan Chaney discover that a former tenant was Hollywood starlet Maxie Malone. However, just on the eve of landing a big starring role, Maxie was killed in a car crash. Maxie’s spirit now emerges and possesses the normally staid Jan, transforming her into a wild and outrageous bimbo. With Maxie determined to win the starring role that she was cheated of, a fight ensues between her and Jan for control of Jan’s body.
This is an incredibly dreary variation on the subgenre of eschatological comedies represented by the likes of Topper (1937) and Here Comes Mr Jordan (1941). The genre has never progressed beyond the lightweight comedy it began as in the 1930s. Some of the modern variants – Oh, God! (1977), All Of Me (1984), Big (1988) – have succeeded by upping the comedy or emotional value.
Alas, Maxie has none of the delights of those other films – it is utterly insipid. Some of the scenes with Mandy Patinkin running around the bedroom trying to avoid Maxie are incredibly unfunny. Even the soundtrack has a banality that sounds like piano bar background music. Most irritating is the cop-out ending – the script sets up the dramatic potential of the contest between Jan and Maxie for possession of Jan’s body, then unbelievably has Maxie just deciding to give up and head off into the afterlife on the eve of her greatest success.
The film’s saving grace comes close to being Glenn Close who does an meticulous job in getting down the mannerisms and argot of a flapper bimbo. The problem is that Close is always an actor who seems emotionally distant from her performance – she seems to act by calculation rather than instinct. Her Maxie seems a mammoth and exacting effort but it is a cold one, behind it there is no feeling. Her Jan seems a far more honest performance. The best performance in the film – in fact, the most natural one – is from Mandy Patinkin, who comes across with a great deal of good-natured likability.
The film was uncreditedly remade as the erotic fantasy Erotic Possessions (1999).
Full film available online here:-