Rated: R For language and violence. Reviewed by: Chris Release date: October 16, 1992 Released by: Universal Studios, Inc.
First at the scene of a crime, Joe Pesci plays Leo Bernstein, a 1940s freelance photographer. He rearranges the bodies and crime scenes to get the most interesting shots and sees himself as an artist whose pictures will one day be displayed in the Museum of Modern Art.
Bernstein works nights hanging around the edges of the action, hoping to snap a celebrity, a disaster or a murder. His work is ugly and lonely, that is, until he meets Mrs. Levine (Barbara Hershey). She's the beautiful widow of a rich club owner and she needs Bernstein's help. She asks him to find out something about a guy who came into her club claiming to be her new partner; he says that before her husband died they made a deal.
Bernstein falls hard for the sophisticated Mrs. Levine and agrees to check out the background of this thug, only to get himself involved with the mob, the FBI and murder.
It's an old story: Does the beautiful woman really care about the funny looking, but endearing, manor is she just using him? Darting around dark, often rain slicked streets, clad in a crushed fedora, rumpled raincoat and chomping on a big cigar, he captures the essence of a driven man.
The look o0f the film is also terrific, busy nightclubs, big shiny sedans and apartments with long, dim hallways comprise the sets and slinky, low-cut gowns, red lips and large lapeled suits add to the authentic backdrop. You get a real feel for the era.
The plot isn't original, but Pesci and it's moody look (filmed beautifully in both color and black and white) more than make up for it.