Producer Martin Ransohoff reportedly developed PHYSICAL EVIDENCE as a sequel to his 1985 film JAGGED EDGE, and although the idea was evidently abandoned, parallels between the main characters in both films still exist. Suspended from the police force for his hot temper, Joe Paris (Burt
Reynolds, in a role similar to Robert Loggia's likable detective in JAGGED EDGE) wakes up from a drinking binge to find himself accused of the murder of a notorious gangster and unable to account for his whereabouts at the time of the killing. Needing high-profile trial experience to bolster her
resume, yuppie lawyer Jenny Hudson (Theresa Russell, in the Glenn Close-like role) takes Joe's case, although she will have to oppose seasoned, conviction-hungry James Nicks (Ned Beatty, in the Peter Coyote role) in court and combat the overwhelming evidence against her client. After some initial
class-based bickering, the downwardly spiraling cop and yupwardly mobile lawyer team up to trap the real killer. Instead of concentrating on the mystery or romantic angles of his film, director Michael Crichton focuses on developing Jenny's feminist consciousness, and Russell responds with a
powerful performance that telegraphs none of the changes her character undergoes. Likewise, Reynolds' work is top-flight, making it all the more a shame that this vastly underrated film was a flop as a theatrical release.
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