Film: The Long Kiss Goodnight

The Long Kiss Goodnight is a 1996 spy/comedy/action film.

Samantha Caine (Geena Davis) knows nothing about her past. She had been found eight years ago on a beach, pregnant and injured, but remembers nothing of her former life. Since then she has given birth to her daughter, Caitlin (Yvonne Zima), and met a very nice man. For a while she hired a few private investigators, including Mitch Hennessey (Samuel L. Jackson), but they never came up with anything. She has been living a peaceful, idyllic life working as a schoolteacher and raising her daughter, and has pretty much decided to give her former, unknown life the "long kiss goodnight".

One Christmas season, she plays the part of Mrs. Claus in her town's Christmas parade. An inmate in prison is shocked to see her on television, alive, and breaks out.

Meanwhile, Samantha is in a freak auto accident, injuring her head. After she recovers she discovers as she cuts carrots one night that she has an unexpected skill with knives and assumes she must have been a chef in her past life. She could not be more wrong...

This film contains examples of:

  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: There's a very brief one between Charly and Mitch when they arrive at the motel in Niagara Falls and Charly realizes that her chances of making it out alive are slim.
    Charly: They're going to blow my head off, you know. This is the last time I'll ever be pretty.
    *Charly and Mitch kiss*
  • Action Girl / Action Mom: Samantha/Charly turns into this.
  • Affably Evil: Timothy.
  • Alcohol Hic: Near the beginning, Samantha lampshades this trope while on the way home from a Christmas party with her clearly drunk friend, jokingly mentioning bubbles coming from his mouth that make a "hic" sound when they pop.
  • Amnesia Tropes:
    • Amnesia Danger: Subverted.
    • Amnesiac Dissonance: Who would expect a small-town schoolteacher to be one of the most dangerous women in the world?
    • Amnesiac Liar: Being a spy would do that to you.
    • Amnesiac Resonance: She discovers an ability with knives that she believes means she was a chef, but she's really a government assassin.
    • Criminal Amnesiac: Luke/Daedalus keeps the lie that he's her fiancee, when he's actually the mark.
    • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Forgot her life because she got shot, started getting her memories back after a car accident, and regained them completely after being tortured and almost drowned.
  • Arms Dealer: Daedalus is one of these.
  • Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!:
    Mitch: Ready.. And... [Preparing for attack]
    Mitch: [cue the grenade] Fuck it! Run for your life!"
  • Attempted Rape: When One-Eyed Jack is given an unconscious Charly, instead of just killing her like he was ordered he begins fondling her, which results in her waking up and stabbing him in the eye with a syringe. It's also implied that Timothy had previously tried something similar.
    Timothy: Jack? Jack? Jack! Do yourself a favor, man: don't let her looks fool you. She's the Energizer fucking Bunny. Just do her and dump her; don't try to get cute and play doctor first. I made that mistake. It nearly killed me.
  • Ax-Crazy: Timothy is nothing but a psychotic and heartless monster with a taste for mass murderer and torture.
  • Bad Boss: Timothy.
    Henchman: I'm hurt real bad. I think I'm dying.
    Timothy: Continue dying. Out.
  • Bald of Evil: One-Eyed Jack and Leland Perkins.
  • Black Comedy Rape: A joke by Charly.
    Man: Hey lady. Want some company?
    Charly: No thanks, I'm saving myself until I get raped.
  • Blood Knight: Timothy. He loves his work, all right.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: The bad guys twice have our heroine helpless in their power, but fail to just shoot her. The first time is somewhat justified by their need to interrogate her, but they still leave just one guy to do the job despite knowing how dangerous she is. The second time? They monolog their entire plan to her, then leave her Locked in a Freezer. Luckily, she's filled her daughter's doll with gasoline, you know, just in case she needed to set fire to stuff. Averted in the case of Mitch's case, as they intended to just shoot him (or stab him, there was some debate), but were too slow, giving Charlie time to blow stuff up and distract them.
    • Actually happens three times. In a flashback we see that One-Eyed Jack had Charly at his mercy and was ordered by Timothy to kill her. Instead he decided to have some fun with her. But then she woke up...
  • Bring My Brown Pants: A teenaged boy is smoking a cigarette when he is surprised by Charly the Spy coming up behind him with a scoped carbine rifle. He pees his pants.
    • Seeing the local mom in stretch pants and carrying a BFG calmly state "Tell anyone you saw me, I'll blow your fucking head off" would tend to have that effect on a person.
  • Buxom Is Better: In one scene Mitch notices a large-breasted female jogger while he's driving. When Samantha expresses her amusement at Mitch's reaction, Mitch comments that Samantha has the jogger beat "from the neck up."
  • Captain Obvious: "Don't hit the cars!"
    • Lampshaded with the look Mitch gives her right after she says that.
  • Chef of Iron: We wanna meet the chefs that can do that.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Samantha slips a matchbook into her daughter's sling, so that she can keep a candle lit while her mother's away. Once Sam has her memory back and is Charly Baltimore, she and her daughter are Locked In A Freezer, where the matches (along with some gasoline) allow her to blow up the freezer door and escape.
    • Lighting a candle in the window, so Sam can find "her way home".
    • The location of Nathan's third gun.
  • CIA Evil, FBI Good: One of the main antagonists is a corrupt CIA officer. And in one scene, Mitch tries to bluff Timothy by telling him that his "friends in the FBI" are on their way (but Timothy is unimpressed).
  • *Click* Hello
    Alley Agent: Hey honey, this is a real big fuckin' gun.
    Mitch: This ain't no ham on rye pal.
  • Contrived Coincidence: For the plot to move forward in this film, Sam had to be seen in the Christmas parade by the inmate in jail, and in a completely unrelated event at the same time Sam is in a car accident that begins to trigger her latent memories. If she had not been in the accident, she may have been murdered by the assailant who saw her on TV.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Waldman, who carries three handguns on himself at all times.
    Mitch: Jesus, old man! How many of those things you got?!
    Waldman: Three: one shoulder, one hip, and one right next to Mr. Wally. Most pat-downs don't reveal it as an agent is often reluctant to feel up another man's groin.
    • When trapped in the cellar, Charlie fills her daughter's doll with petrol on the off chance this might be useful in their escape. It is.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Everyone - this is a wonderful movie for snarky lines. Especially Sam/Charly, Mitch, and Nathan Waldman.
    Mitch: Excuse me, uh... do you normally curse this much?
    Sam: I... what, are you a Mormon?
    Mitch: Yes, I'm a Mormon. That's why I just smoked a pack of Newport and drank three vodka tonics.
    • Another example:
    Mitch: (in shock) We jumped out of a building!
    Waldman: Yes, and it was very exciting. Tomorrow we go to the zoo.
    • And:
    Charly: Gun Bulge.
    Mitch: You think I'm gonna shove it down my pants? Shoot my damn dick off...
    Charly: So now you're a sharpshooter?
  • Deep Cover Agent: What better cover than Amnesiac Dissonance?
  • Deliver Us from Evil: A slightly complicated example here.
  • Dirty Old Man: Samantha drives an inebriated older man home from her Christmas party. During the drive, he asks if Samantha and her fiancee ever... followed by a suggestive hand gesture. Samantha attempts to deflect his question by saying "Make a circle with our fingers and move another finger in and out? Every chance we get." Later on he causes a car crash by trying to touch his nose eyes closed, waving a hand in front of Sam, to prove he's not drunk.
    • Actually, he was using his not-drunk hand waving as a ploy to grab her boobs.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: When Charly notices that Mitch's bandage needs to be changed, she opens her bathrobe and flashes him right before ripping the bandage off.
  • The Dragon: Timothy, who becomes the Big Bad when the previous one is killed halfway through the film (though even then, he still works for the corrupt CIA boss Leland, essentially making Timothy a Dragon-in-Chief).
  • Dye or Die: Charly dyed her auburn hair blonde. Samantha let it grow out. Didn't help her.
  • Emergency Stash: The locker opened by the key.
  • Establishing Character Moment: In Timothy's first scene he is interrogating a captive. The captive knows that there's no way that he's getting out alive, so he asks Timothy to execute him with a gun rather than a knife. Timothy stabs the guy with a knife, apparently For the Evulz.
  • Evil Uncle: Leland Perkins could be considered an evil Honorary Uncle to Charly. Perkins was friends with Charly's father, and when Charly's father was killed in Belfast (presumably by the Irish Republican Army, as he was a soldier serving in the Royal Irish Rangers) Perkins recruited Charly to work for Chapter.
  • Eye Scream: Through the peephole.
    • Another nasty one occurs in the flash back. We find out exactly how "One eyed Jack" got his name.
  • False Flag Operation: The bad guys' plan is to fake a terrorist attack on US soil so the CIA will get better funding.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Timothy.
  • Forgot the Call: Imagine The Bourne Identity if Jason Bourne's amnesia was caused by Becoming the Mask rather than a nasty boating incident.
  • Genre Shift: Technically, both sides are action, but every aspect of the film takes a hard turn when Charly regains her memory.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: Charly worked for Chapter, which Waldman describes as "a black bag operation working from the U.S. State Department".
  • Guile Hero: Applies to both Charly and Mitch. In Atlantic City, Charly tricks Perkins into revealing that he wants her dead by having Mitch place a phone call to his own office, knowing that it will be traced by Chapter. Later in the film Mitch figures out how to find Timothy by suggesting that they go to a telephone company office and coercing an employee into tracing Timothy's phone.
  • Gun Fu: One of the earliest western examples before John Woo migrated to America. Noteworthy examples include:
    • Leaping out of an exploding building and shooting the frozen lake below to soften the impact of landing.
    • Loosening a cable tied to a corpse hanging from the top of a bridge's bannister, making the corpse drop; holding onto the rope and allowing the corpse's weight to pull you UP RIGHT NEXT TO THE HELICOPTER 50 FEET ABOVE YOU and blowing your evil-ex-lover to smithereens at point blank range, with the Uzi you just grabbed from the falling corpse as you passed it.
  • The Handler: Waldman used to be this for Charly.
  • Honey Trap: When Charly was still working as a CIA assassin, she would seduce the men she was assigned to kill. It's known from the film that she had sex with both Daedalus and Timothy. In fact, her affair with Timothy resulted in her becoming pregnant with Caitlin.
  • I'd Tell You, but Then I'd Have to Kill You: A variant: "If you want me to talk in front of him, you may be asked to kill him later."
  • IKEA Weaponry: One of Samantha's first steps toward remembering her past is finding and reassembling the sniper rifle hidden in her old suitcase. Seeing her putting together a weapon she doesn't even properly recognize is one of the creepiest scenes in the film.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: If it weren't for this trope, Mitch and Charly wouldn't have survived very long. This trope is especially blatant during the shootout in the train station; the hitmen sent by Chapter walk in with automatic weapons and begin spraying indiscriminately, managing to kill several innocent bystanders but not even scratching Mitch or Charly.
  • Impersonating an Officer: Part of Mitch's standard con in busting guests who think they're with a prostitute.
  • Important Haircut: When Samantha becomes fully aware of her Charly identity, she underlines the change in her mind by changing her appearance, which includes cutting her hair and dying it blonde. At the end of the film her hair is still blonde, but it's back to it's pre-Charly length, symbolizing that she has embraced both her kind and nurturing Samantha personality as well as her tough and independent Charly personality.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Calling Geena Davis unattractive would be a stretch, but no fewer than five characters comment on Charly/Sam's attractiveness. Of course, the film was produced and directed by her husband.
  • Informed Attribute: See Living Lie Detector, below.
    • People keep on saying Samantha is chubby but she looks perfectly fine.
      • Waldman says she's "frumpier" which probably refers to her more plain, matronly looks as Sam. Charly says her ass got bigger, which could be true, though she's still hella hot.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Samantha in her Charly status is the female version of this.
    • Mitch, too. He's a good person at his core, but in general — and putting aside illegal activity — he acts like an ass.
  • Karma Houdini: We never see the corrupt CIA boss Leland killed or captured. However, it is implied that he gets indicted at the end according to Hennessey on Larry King Live.
  • Knife Nut: Charly.
    • Timothy as well.
  • Leno Device: Mitch gets to go on Larry King Live!
  • Living Lie Detector: Timothy boasts of this ability. It comes back to bite him in the ass when Charley promises to kill him dead.
    Charly: "You're gonna die screaming. And I'm gonna watch. Am I telling the truth?"
  • Locked in a Freezer: Charly uses a meathook to scrape a hole in the ground under the door, fills the hole with gasoline, and blows the door off its hinges. She's nothing if not resourceful.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: As Timothy is about to leave Charly and her young daughter Caitlin to freeze to death together in a meat locker, Charly reveals that Caitlin's also his. He leaves them both in the locker anyway.
  • Magical Negro: Hennessey is determined to avert this trope. "Yes, Miss Daisy, I be honkin'!"
  • Majorly Awesome: Charly is referred to as "Major Baltimore" a few times, suggesting that she has a military background (either that, or Chapter uses a military-like ranking system).
  • Mama Bear: Samantha, made even more dangerous because of her assassin training.
  • Martial Arts and Crafts: The protagonist becomes really good in the kitchen shortly after a car crash. She thinks her memories are starting to return after eight years of amnesia, and that her great skill with knives mean she used to be a chef. She's right about the first part.
  • Meaningful Echo: "Life is pain. You just get used to it!"
  • Modest Royalty: The first time we see the President of the United States, he's wearing pajamas and making himself a sandwich for a late-night snack in the White House kitchen (rather than having a butler or other servant make it for him).
  • Mondegreen: Mitch is hearing England Dan and John Ford Coley's "I'd Really Like to See You Tonight" on the radio, and sings along, using the phrase, "I'm not talking 'bout the linen," when Samantha corrects him that the actual words in the song are "I'm not talking about moving in."
  • Mood Whiplash: The film itself goes through a big, BIG one when Samantha regains her memory. Beforehand, it comes across as a Film Noir about a woman's uncovering of a Dark and Troubled Past with the help of a Private Detective. Once she becomes Charly again, the film's mood transforms into that of a sleek spy thriller.
    • Throughout, this film can run around a bit, with the comedy mixed in with the dark.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Samantha/Charly both red headed and blonde.
  • Neck Snap: Samantha hits a stag and crashes her car. In the aftermath, she finds the deer bleeding to death and snaps its neck to put it out of its misery. Then she wonders how she did that.
    • She also does this to One-Eyed Jack (via a rabbit punch) and a nameless mook outside of the motel by Niagra Falls.
  • Never-Forgotten Skill: Samantha Caine has had amnesia for eight years. But it becomes clear that this hasn't stopped her from executing a Neck Snap, a rabbit punch, and knife moves like a professional.
  • Nice Guy: Samantha's fiancee, Hal.
  • No Endor Holocaust: When Sam returns to her house it is played straight in the kitchen - everything is neat and tidy in there despite only a day or so passing since the battle where the fridge door was blasted. (Wow, the insurance replaced the fridge fast!)
    • Averted though when she runs down the steps - the hole in the wall was boarded up and papers are on the banister.
  • Noodle Incident: We hear a television set say ", so much for the skydiving Santa Claus..."
  • Offscreen Karma: Leland Perkins is the only major antagonist who doesn't get killed by Charly. However, in the film's epilogue it's mentioned by Larry King that he was indicted on multiple counts of high treason. Considering that treason is a capital crime in the United States, it's very possible that Perkins would have been given the death penalty (or at the very least he'll be spending the rest of his life in federal prison).
  • Outrun the Fireball: From a surprisingly powerful grenade.
    • Then they outdrive the fireball at the end of the movie.
  • Private Detective: Mitch's day job.
  • Psycho for Hire: Timothy.
  • Punch Clock Villain: Leland Perkins. He views the Honeymoon plot as a necessary evil to get the CIA the funding that it desperately needs, and when he sees that Timothy has kidnapped Caitlin he comments "My god, we're monsters." and even gives her a doll as a Christmas present.
  • Revealing Skill: The protagonist is a sweet innocent soccer mom with a memory loss - she hit her head five years ago, and her entire life before that is forgotten. Shortly after the start of the movie, she's suddenly creepily good with knives. She says that she must have been a chef before the accident, but it's undeniable that she as well as her family have received the first clue that she was, something else...
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Mitch likes revolvers; the two guns he keeps on himself are a snub-nosed Smith & Wesson Model 36 and a Colt King Cobra .357 magnum.
  • Running Gag: Mitch hums a standard blues riff to himself when he's thinking. This culminates in him driving out of the back of a truck while the riff blares out on electric guitars.
    • An earlier example, made even more awesome because he's Samuel L. Motherfuckin' Jackson:
      Mitch: Da-da-da-da-dun, got me a handgun. Da-da-da-da-dun, got me a rifle, too. Da-da-da-da-dun, anybody fuck with Mitch, he knows just what to d-o. 'Cuz I'm a bad motherfucker.[1]
  • Salt and Pepper: Played straight with Samantha and Mitch, and then inverted when Charly comes back.
  • See No Evil, Hear No Evil: at Daedalus' house, the helicopter makes no noise until the heroes see it.
  • Shout-Out: Samantha is loosely based on Candy Jones.
    • The title seems to be a shout out to the film The Long Goodbye, a Phillip Marlowe mystery/satire where the character is eternally twenty years behind everyone else. The film is even shown on TV in one scene.
  • Split Personality: Davis does an eerily good job of making the audience believe she's two people.
  • Talking to Themself: Briefly in the mirror
  • Took a Level in Badass: Charly, definitely.
  • To the Pain: Timothy is willing to blind and cripple a little girl.
  • Trouser Space: Nathan is well-armed:
    Mitch: Jesus, old man, how many of those you got?
    Nathan: Three — one shoulder, one hip, and one here right next to Mr. Wally. Most patdowns never reveal it as an agent's often reluctant to feel up another man's groin. Other questions?
    Mitch: Yeah — what's the weather like on your planet?
  • The Vamp: Slinky, knife-throwing terrorist Timothy is a rare male Vamp.
  • Villain Team-Up: This film has three major antagonists.
    • Luke/Daedalus, a black market arms dealer.
    • Timothy, a Psycho for Hire who works as Daedalus' chief enforcer.
    • Leland Perkins, a rogue CIA official.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: One of Charly's few allies keeps a gun strapped to the inside of his thigh because he knows it's the only place another man won't search.
    • If this movie were made today, though...
  • Villainous Breakdown: After being knocked into an aqueduct filled with rushing water by Charly, the normally smug and cocky Timothy is clearly rattled and very angry.
    Timothy: Get me to the bridge! I'm not leaving until I know that bitch is dead!
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We last left Sam's friend from the accident unconscious in a car that was catching on fire. While it's probably safe to assume he died, we never learn for sure and his plot is never brought back up.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Mitch gives one of these to Charly when she tries to seduce him in Atlantic City.
    Mitch: Get real, sweetheart. I ain't handsome, I ain't rich, and the last time I got blown candy bars cost a nickel. What's going on?
    Charly: Chemistry.
    Mitch: Chemistry my ass. You know what I think? This is why you'd fuck me. *holds up photograph* To kill a schoolteacher. To bury her once and for all. Well, I kind of liked that schoolteacher. When she comes back, you give me a call, all right?
  • Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell: Take a look at the False Flag Operation.
  • World of Snark: As mentioned above, virtually every character in this movie is a Deadpan Snarker.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Timothy.