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Film / True Crime

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True Crime is a 1999 film directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Eastwood, Isaiah Washington, James Woods, and Denis Leary. It is based on based on the 1995 novel of the same name by Andrew Klavan.

Veteran journalist Steve Everett (Eastwood) recovers from alcoholism, while working for The Oakland Tribune. His friend and colleague Michelle Ziegler dies in a car accident. Michelle was covering the execution of Frank Beechum (Washington), a black man who was convicted of murder. Everett stands in for his deceased colleague. Soon he gets convinced that Beechum is innocent.

True Crime provides examples of:

  • 555: Everett gives his beeper's number to someone at the accounting firm where Porterhouse works. It is 555-1439.
  • Anti-Hero: Steve Everett cheats on his wife with another married woman. He neglects his daughter. He makes fun of the religious belief of a man sentenced to death. But he is the hero of the film and saves Beechum in the end.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Steve Everett manages to prevent Beechum's execution in the last second.
  • Call-Back: On the way to the Governor's house, Everett goes through the same dangerous bend (named Dead Man's Curve) where Michelle Ziegler had a car accident. With a dangerous maneuver, he loses the cops.
  • The Casanova: Steve Everett cheats on his wife with Bob Findley's wife. He also tries to pick up Michelle Ziegler. He was fired from a New York newspaper because he had an affair with an underage girl. Later, he says half-jokingly that he slept with Alan Mann's wife. In the epilogue, he tries to pick up an Asian salesgirl.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Angela Russel's necklace does not seem to be important, until Everett realizes that it belonged to Amy Wilson.
  • Clear Their Name: As soon as he starts investigating the case, Steve Everett gets convinced that Frank Beechum is innocent. He does everything he can to prove his innocence.
  • Coincidental Broadcast: The TV programme in the bar where Everett is drowning his sorrows. It shows just in time a picture of Amy Wilson with a necklace identical to the one worn by Angela Russel. Leads to a "Eureka!" Moment.
  • Death Row: Frank Beechum was sentenced to death and is now awaiting execution on death row. The movie shows his last day before the execution, with the visit of two priests, his wife, his daughter and a journalist.
  • Drives Like Crazy: The intoxicated Steve Everett from the bar to Angela Russel's and then from Angela Russel's to the Governor's house. Two police cars chase him because he drives dangerously, but he manages to lose them.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: After hearing on the radio that Beechum has confessed his crime and being turned out of his house by his wife, Steve Everett goes to a bar and starts drinking again.
  • Da Editor: The two superiors of Steve Everett, Bob Findley and Alan Mann, argue with him because he wants to prove Frank Beechum's innocence. Finally, Bob Findley asks Alan Mann to fire Everett and Everett resigns.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Steve Everett has one in the bar when he realizes that the necklace that Amy Wilson wore when she was murdered is identical to the one worn by Angela Russel.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The bulk of the story starts in the evening and ends at midnight on the next day. The epilogue is set six month later.
  • The Film of the Book: The scenario is based on a 1995 book of the same title by Andrew Klavan.
  • The General's Daughter: Everett was fired from a New York newspaper because he was caught in the supply room with an underage girl who was the owner's daughter.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Zigzagged with the protagonist, intrepid reporter Steve. He's a cynical, hedonistic fellow who mocks Frank's religious belief. Nonetheless, he becomes convinced condemned man Frank's innocent, tirelessly chasing down leads to prove it and is thus the hero (well, Anti-Hero).
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy: Amy Wilson was pregnant when she was murdered.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Steve Everett is assigned to cover the human-story of Frank Beechum. Instead, he makes it his crusade to prove his innocence.
  • Last-Minute Reprieve: The Governor calls to stay Frank Beechum's execution at the very last minute, when the first drug used in the execution has already been injected, thus the warden has to pull the needle out.
  • Lemming Cops: On the way to the Governor's house, Everett is chased by two police cars. He makes a dangerous maneuver, which results in the crash of the two police cars.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: Frank Beechum was found guilty of murdering Amy Wilson, but he's innocent. All the evidence was mistaken and/or misinterpreted.
  • Mistaken for Racist: Steve Everett goes to see the mother of a black possible witness. She assumes he's racist, and while he's sputtering, trying to explain himself, she correctly figures out that the other two witnesses and the victim were all white. Everett tells her she's "making it into a race thing" and tells her the condemned man he's trying to save is also black. She tells him the man he came to see has been dead for three years and asks him where he was when he got stabbed.
  • My Greatest Second Chance: When he was an alcoholic, Steve Everett campaigned for the release of Vargas, a rapist, who finally confessed his crimes. When Everett announces that he thinks that Beechum is innocent, everybody reminds him about the Vargas case, but Everett thinks that this time he is right, because he has stopped drinking.
  • Off the Wagon: Steve Everett is a recovering alcoholic. After hearing on the radio that Beechum has confessed his crime and being turned out of his house by his wife, he starts drinking again.
  • Parental Neglect: Steve Everett neglects his daughter. He has forgotten that he was supposed to visit the zoo with her. His wife reminds him about it, so he goes to the zoo with his daughter but visits it very, very quickly, which results in his daughter being injured.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Everett starts investigating the Beechum case because his colleague Michelle Ziegler, who was in charge of it, dies in a car accident.
  • Race Against the Clock: Beechum will be executed at midnight, so Everett must prove that he is innocent before.
  • Recovered Addict: Steve Everett is a recovering alcoholic.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: Beechum will be executed at midnight, so Everett must prove that he is innocent before it happens.
  • White Man's Burden: A white journalist, Steve Everett, selflessly works to help a black convict, Frank Beechum.