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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

She Was a Casualty Of War

Murder at 1600 on IMDb

Plot Overview

ole glorysecretary and bosscomputer disksA secretary's corpse discovered in a White House john brings Homicide Detective Harlan Regis (Wesley Snipes) and Secret Service Chief Nick Spikings (Daniel Benzali) into conflict over jurisdiction. Evidence gets tucked away and suppressed to avoid embarrassment to President Jack Neil (Ronny Cox); it implicated his play­boy son Kyle (Tate Donovan.) Liaison Secret Service agent Nina Chance (Diane Lane) smells a rat and behind her superior's back she teams up with Det. Harlan who'd been brushed off. When they get too close to the truth, a conspiracy closes in to “disappear” them.


The leitmotif of this tale is two persons initially at odds with each other teaming up for mutual benefit. It follows the line of, (Eccl. 4:9-12) “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall with­stand him; and a three­fold cord is not quickly broken.” Detectives work in pairs achieving noted success; “they have a good reward for their labour.” Here Harlan's partner is Detective Stengel (Dennis Miller.) One surrep­titiously passes the other some critical evidence at the crime scene to smuggle out past the Secret Service. They've got each other's backs. “For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow.”

Stonewall JacksonThere's an odd emphasis on the “woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.” Harlan's off-duty hobby is Civil War buff stuff. In his apartment he's got a room size tableau of the first battle of Bull Run, near Manassass, Virginia, the first major battle of the American Civil War. It's where Confederate General “Stonewall” Jackson got his sobriquet for his stubborn defiance standing solid like a stone wall. Harlan sets his action figure in place.

When he returns to his apartment, he finds the figure's horse had fallen onto the floor (“How did you get down here?”) sans general (“Where's your rider at?”) Obviously there had been an intruder in his apartment, and the other plastic figurines were unable to help right their comrade-in-arms for obvious reasons. Harlan had to do it. He was a higher power in the room. Which at first seems odd, a Negro benevolent force intervening on behalf of the Confederates who were fighting to uphold slavery. But it gets weirder.

Through the whole movie, makeup and costuming had Harlan holding a cigarillo in his puffy, Negroid lips, his face framing it between hair cut short and a chin­strap beard. The mini-stogie is always just a stub but we never see him smoking it, although once we do see him remove a new one from its cello­phane wrapper. ‘Take a puff, already,’ we want to say. That smoke is front and center.

From a historical perspective, Virginia didn't start out having slaves, but they needed them to grow their labor-intensive tobacco crop. There weren't enough able-bodied men to fill the bill, so they used slaves imported from the Caribbean: Aruba and such places. That was their economy back then. I was reading about Amish tobacco farmers. The Amish don't use modern technology but rely on manual labor. A big, strapping college student wanted to work on an Amish farm for a summer, but it was too difficult for him and he quit. One has to be born into that heavy work. People had to have their smokes, and Harlan sure represented that fact though he was black.

corporal punishmentIt's almost as if history had a mind of its own not to be put off by some piddling Civil War. There was an oppressive African slavery, made a little easier in Virgina. The Civil War set the slaves free, at least theoretically. But it took a while for the plantation owners, some of them, to get the memo. And then there was share­cropping, hardly a step up. President Hayes did an about face. He put an end to reconstruction and re-established “home rule” in the South. They enacted Jim Crow laws. They implemented segregation.

Martin Luther King
Jr.Martin Luther King (MLK) in his Letter From Birmingham Jail seeking reform penned a whole litany of complaints, rejected the counsel of “gradualism,” and touted “the fierce urgency of NOW.” He ends his letter with an apology: “If I have said any­thing in this letter that is an over­state­ment of the truth and is indicative of an unreason­able impatience, I beg you to forgive me.” Let's not hold it against him; he was caught up in the fever of his times.

In the end, the universe tends to unfold as it should. Robert H. Bork in Slouching Towards Gomorrah (238) writes:

[Researchers] Peter Brimelow and Leslie Spencer … quote Charles Murray: “There's hardly a single outcome—black voting rights, access to public accommodation, employment, particularly in white collar jobs—that couldn't have been predicted on the basis of pre-1964 trend lines.” “That's pretty devastating,” the authors say. “It suggests that we have spent trillions of dollars to create an out­come that would have happened even if the govern­ment had done nothing.”

MA1600 starts with a suicidal suit having a meltdown in the street over being fired (“They let me go.”) Isn't that what happened to the slaves right after the Civil War? They were put out in the cold (“They just threw me out.”) Couldn't have been easy, liberty not­with­standing. The complexities have been covered in other movies, here it's just focused on Virginia & Washington.

happy hugcafeteria“Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?” The suicidal man lacked the human touch, he felt isolated. When Harlan moved close, he was able to give him a love tap to “handle” the situation. The president's golden retriever was routinely petted. In the work environment colleagues poked and jabbed each other in good spirit. A lonely man could rub a girl's neck from behind, say, in the cafeteria to “come on to her.” He is easily rebuffed. Hand­some, high status Kyle was making good progress on getting “laid in every room in the White House.” Some of the dumped women, though, came back to haunt him. The president and first lady were married, they produced a son, and on the verge of a major life change, they shared a warm hug.

“And if one prevail against him, two shall with­stand him; and a three­fold cord is not quickly broken.” At first it is the two detectives against one liaison officer, but when all three join together, they are a force to be reckoned with.

Production Values

” (1997) was well directed by Dwight H. Little. It was written by Wayne Beach and David Hodgin who waxed clever at times. It stars Wesley Snipes, Diane Lane, Dennis Miller, Alan Alda, Ronny Cox and Daniel Benzali. Snipes and Lane were great. The cast did a decent job.

red maple leavesMPAA rated it R for sexuality, violence and some language. It had a TV drama feel to it with Steven Bern­stein's some­what stifling cinema­tog­raphy, yet mixed in with some primo angle shots. Its lively musical score was by Christopher Young. The pace was relentless. It was filmed on location in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Runtime is 1¾ hours.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

This movie grabs one's attention because so much is at stake and the correct resolution is iffy. It sure promotes teamwork though the team is off the books. Heroes get made here, and a sardonic ending leaves us feeling good regardless. The movie's higher power is a black guy, for what it's worth.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Print. Software.

Bork, Robert H. Slouching Towards Gomorrah. New York: HarperCollins, 1996. Print.

Brimelow, Peter and Leslie Spencer. “When quotas replace merit, everybody suffers,” Forbes, February 15, 1993, p. 102. As quoted in Bork.

King Jr., Martin Luther. Letter From Birmingham Jail. 1963. Print.