Cloak And Dagger (1984)

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CLOAK AND DAGGER  was the 4th movie version of a 1947 short story written by Cornell Woolrich.  His “The Boy Who Cried Murder” was previously filmed to acclaim in 1949 as The Window, then twice in Britain with less success, in 1966 as The Boy Cried Murder and then as Eyewitness in 1970. This more family-friendly 1984 go, scripted by Tom Holland, directed by Richard Franklin (Road Games) scored well with critics but its gross of $9,720,000 sank against the $13,00,000 price tag.

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11-year-old ‘Davey Osborne’ (Henry Thomas, 12) has an imagination so vivid it troubles his Air Force officer father (Dabney Coleman), because the kid is so enamored of a video game that he imagines its superspy hero ‘Jack Flack’ (also Coleman) is real. When the boy witnesses a murder, he also discovers a plot to steal government secrets. The spies, not above killing, pursue Davey, who can’t convince authorities of the stakes. Jack Flack is there to help.

Light adventure for kids is well-played by the cast, and has offbeat location filming in San Antonio, making ample use of views of the River Walk, the Sunken Garden in Brackenridge park and of course, the Alamo. The overly busy music score by Brian May works against it, and for adults it’s likely patience will run out before the 101 minutes do.

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Though the film failed at the box-office, it at least—according to Dabney Coleman—came over as a bonding flick for a certain number of fathers & sons.  Coleman: “I thought it was a great idea….it was great working with that little kid. Henry Thomas. What a great kid. And a great actor. I’ll tell you, though, it’s amazing how many people have come up to me and said something to me about that film…That happens to me two or three times a year. It’s always either a father saying, “I saw that movie with my son,” or a son saying, “I saw it with my dad.” But then they say, “Seeing that movie was very important in my life.” And that’s always very nice to hear.”  Fair enough.

It also features a team-up of real-World lifetime couple John McIntire and Jeanette Nolan, as baddies, and, in a change of pace, usual heavy William Forsythe is on hand as a nice guy.

With Christina Nigra, Michael Murphy, Eloy Casados and Tim Rossovich.

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