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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Whitewash at the White House

Murder at 1600 (1997) on IMDb

Plot Overview

ole gloryThe opening screen shot is completely taken up by the American flag, coloring this film patriotic. We're at day 182 of an inter­national crisis. North Korea has been holding thirteen downed American AWACS soldiers in captivity. General Clark Tully (Harris Yulin) wants to send special forces to rescue them. President Jack Neil (Ronny Cox) doesn't want to start a war. National Security Adviser Alvin Jordan (Alan Alda) thinks the president is weak. D.C. Detective Stengel (Dennis Miller), watching TV news, comments: “I see, so you negotiate for 13 and how many do you go to war for? 14? Is that it? Every­thing is about numbers. Two drinks a day – healthy. Three – you're an alcoholic.”

Threatening to make matters worse is a murder in the White House, of attractive Protocol secretary Carla Town (Mary Moore) whose case is assigned to Stengel along with lead Detective Harlan Regis (Wesley Snipes). Head of the White House Secret Service detail Nick Spikings (Daniel Benzali) reluctantly shares the information that there were 31 people in the White House the night of the murder. The following day they're given a list of all 30 [!] of them. Hmm. We're reminded of a Jay Brandon character: “Jack had been completely content with a cop's life until in the course of his work he'd noticed some numbers that didn't add up in other police officers' collection and distribution of a charity fund. Jack being Jack, he pulled on that thread and couldn't stop even when he began to see where it led” (26). Regis will follow his leads until the bitter end.


The second screen shot is a closeup of Carla Town having passionate sex with someone an hour before she was killed, leading to Regis's investigation. The red herring Spiking gives him leads him to comment he doesn't want “an innocent man to fry for some­thing he didn't do.” He doesn't mind letting a guilty man fry. That's consistent with how God set up our post-diluvial world to mitigate against wickedness after he, (2Peter 2:5) “saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly.” Trumping Thomas Jefferson's guarantee of the right to life is God's instigation of capital punishment, (Gen. 9:6) “Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.”

George Washington portraitThe third screen shots are portraits of George Washington and other of America's founding fathers looking down on the shame­less couple doing it in a White House lounge. That has a historic precedent of sorts in a first tent incident after Noah's flood, with the players, (Gen. 9:18-19) “the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, … Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth over­spread.” Two brothers Shem and Japheth are paired up in the following story, and the odd brother out is Ham paired up with his then youngest son Canaan.

(Gen. 9:20-23) “And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the naked­ness of his father, and told his two brethren with­out. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went back­ward, and covered the naked­ness of their father; and their faces were back­ward, and they saw not their father's naked­ness.” It was a scandalous exposure in the first tent, talked about by Ham but covered up by Shem & Japheth. As Adviser Jordan discusses appearances in “Murder at 1600”, “The Presidency is an institution, not a person. An institution will be protected at all costs.” We're talking about the new world dignity of first father Noah.

(Gen. 9:24-27) “And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” God blessed Shem, from whom derive the Semites, and he included Japheth in the blessing whose line spread out all over including to Europe. Canaan is the front runner of Ham whose line is to serve the other two. His line also includes, (Gen. 10:6) “the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.” Cush is Hebrew for black. His people went down to Africa and were later imported to America as Negro slaves.

Harlan Regis is African-American. He is also a history buff whose apartment houses a large table model of Washington City, July 21st, 1861, and one of Manassas, Virginia, 1st Battle of Bull Run. When his familiarity with D.C.'s environs is questioned, he remarks, “I built this city, remember,” meaning he's constructed a scale model of it, and as a double entendre that his slave forbearers built the actual place. If they worked that city, then they also worked Manassas. Virginia started out not having slaves, but then they brought them from Caribbean Islands to work the tobacco farms as there wasn't enough hired help available for it.

I was reading about Amish tobacco farmers. The Amish don't use modern technology but manual labor. A college student wanted to work on an Amish tobacco farm for a summer, but it was too difficult for him and he quit. One has to be born into that heavy work.

Regis spent the whole movie with a cigar in his mouth. Some kind of fine leaf tobacco individually wrapped. He thus testifies that people are going to want their smokes. If God's blessing on Shem & Japheth was to be fulfilled here, then the servitude of Ham's line needed to be in effect. Regis made a big fuss about the inadvis­ability of the government evicting him from his apartment, because it would entail him having to reconstruct his Civil War models. How much harder for America to remake all of society.

God also limited the pursuit of happiness when he confused our languages at the tower of Babel so we'd have a harder time defining our goals. (Gen. 11:5-9) “And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.”

Secret Service Agent Nina Chance (Diane Lane) was pursuing happiness in her career. She was assigned as liaison to Det. Regis who asked her about being a woman in her position:

Nina Chance: “I am fully qualified to answer any questions relating to White House security; furthermore, I resent the implication that—”

Detective Regis: “Furthermore, you resent the implication? Man, people don't even speak English in this town anymore.”

Production Values

” (1997) was directed by Dwight Little. It was written by Wayne Beach and David Hodgin. It stars Wesley Snipes, Diane Lane, and Daniel Benzali. Snipes is at the top of his game as the likable detective. Diane Lane was at her Olympic best stripped down for a run­ning gun battle. The part of National Security Advisor was well played by Alan Alda. Dennis Miller adds comic relief as Snipes's laconic partner. Daniel Benzali milks his role as interfering security head. Ronny Cox as president had but few lines.

MPAA rated it R for sexuality, violence and some language. It's fast paced for its plodding detective work. The suspense just sort of builds.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This movie is clever but strains credulity with too few places for the bad guys to lay low in a busy White House environment. Never­the­less, it keeps up the action and suspense just fine. The Metro cops are sympathetic, the female agent professional, and the news current. It's a good movie.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Average special effects. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Overall movie rating: Three and a half stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quotations are from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Brandon, Jay. Grudge Match. Copyright © 2004 by Jay Brandon. New York: Tom Doherty Associates, 2004. Print.