The Right of the People (1986) Needs Amending - Page 2
Early in the film, it is discomforting to find one of Hollywood’s premiere character actors, M. Emmet Walsh, miscast as the mayor of St. Lawrence, but as the film progresses he is the best character. The mayor is so inappropriately happy and positive that he is able to turn a horrific crime into a PR opportunity. Somehow Walsh, as reliable as ever, manages to pull it off, his style meshing perfectly with the mayor’s persona.
Other performances in the film are overwrought (with the exception of Billy Dee Williams, apparently cast to prove that Hollywood is colorblind) to the point of being unbelievable, even laughable. The kindest thing one can say about Michael Ontkean is that anguish and impassioned are not his strong points.
Although The Right of the People comes close to its expected ending, it leaves the issue dangling and shakes the audience awake with a disturbingly dramatic rendition of “America the Beautiful” performed by Ellis Hall and the Blossoms, a musical interlude that reminds us of the painful, seemingly endless rendition of “Sailing” performed by Mabin School Glee Club earlier in the film.
MGM’s huge catalogue of titles is a treasure trove of B-movies and films that are bad enough to be good. It also contains a number of unexceptional made-for-TV movies with little entertainment value, such as The Right of the People which is available from on-line retailers, manufactured on demand.