November 2010
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The Contender

the_contender_092The Vice President is dead. Can Lilly Rush and the squad prove who did it? Sorry, wrong show 😉

The Vice President is still dead though.  In a controversial move the President (Jeff Bridges, The Big Lebowski) chooses Senator Laine Hanson (Joan Allen, The Ice Storm) to be become the first ever female Vice President, subject to a confirmation hearing.  In what is a plan to get someone else the job, and revenge for her switching political parties, stories about Senator Hanson’s past surface.  The allegations against her are based are on events from her time in college.  Does the Senator back down to avoid embarrassing the President, and herself?  Does she come out fighting regardless of the truth?

the_contender_034And so goes the story of The Contender, Rod Lurie‘s second feature film as writer and director.  In fact it is also the second film of his that Kathryn starred in, Deterrence being the first.  Kathryn went on to star in Rod’s next two films as well: The Last Castle (though she was left on the cutting room floor of that one, appearing only in a deleted scene on the DVD) and Resurrecting The Champ.  Kathryn is clearly something of a muse to Rod, and who can blame him :-)  Rod seems to have a troupe of actors he calls on regularly as a number of them appear in many of Rod’s films.  Mike Binder, for instance, has a minor role in this and has been in most of Rod’s work.  He, of course, crossed paths with Kathryn in The Mind Of The Married Man.

the_contender_093Back to the matter at hand.  The Contender sees Kathryn playing Special Agent Paige Willomina, an FBI agent tasked with investigating Senator Hanson’s background as part of the confirmation process.  Actually, from the outset it isn’t clear who Paige is working for.  Her line of questioning could be further digging for dirty by her opposition.  Paige initially comes across as a bit bumbling and ineffectual, not a investigator that could that could really get the truth out of someone.  In a Columbo-esque way though, she is really very cleverly disarming her interviewees.

the_contender_142Kathryn stars in 4 scenes: 1) Interviewing another possible Vice Presidential nominee, played by William Petersen of Grissom on CSI fame. 2) Interviewing a college friend of Senator Hanson. 3) Presenting some of her findings to an unidentified elderly gentleman playing golf.  4) Answering questions of the President’s chief of staff as he boards a helicopter.  There is also a brief reprise from the 2nd scene during the end credits.   A fifth scene that didn’t make the final cut of the movie makes an appearance on the DVD as an extra.  This  deleted scene, which probably fits in before the first, sees Agent Willomina interviewing the wife of the other nominee, giving another great example of her Columbo.

The brown hair in a long ponytail and glasses give Kathryn a very different look from that we are so used to.  The flawless pale skin is in evidence and it contrasts very nicely with those darker colours.  The smile is very much in evidence.  A delight as always.

From 2000, The Contender has a stellar cast.  Along with the big names already mentioned the film stars the likes of Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight), Christian Slater (Mindhunters) and Sam Elliott (Tombstone).

164 screencaps from the movie and an addtional 50 screencaps from the deleted scene can now be found in the Gallery.

2 comments to The Contender

  • Icywinter2

    This movie is what got her the role on Cold Case, I remember reading something long ago..

  • As an amateur (sort of) film lover and critic, I have viewed and reviewed hundreds of films — some horrible; others superb; and the rest somewhere in-between. I don’t miss much, but I must confess that somehow I completely missed the year 2,000 production of THE CONTENDER; a film I place in category #2 — SUPERB.

    A super plot, magnificent cast (both on and off-stage), enchanting score (Copland-like, but still original), superior direction, with the presence of transporting the viewer to a state of actually “being there,” makes THE CONTENDER an immediate favorite. Hitchcock would have been proud.

    [Out of place anti-gun control message removed – KM UK]

    So forgiving the previously revealed “flaw,” this film should historically be viewed as a mile-stone of American film genius. Enjoy!


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