This is a good film starring Charles Bronson and Dana Delany. Pay close attention to Bronson's future wife, Kim Weeks, playing the role of Russ Laurie's wife.
Originally "Dead to Rights" aired as a
made-for-TV movie on CBS in 1993 under the title "Donato and Daughter". I assume that the film's title changed for commercial reasons and that VHS and later, DVD, manufacturers and distributors perhaps felt that the title "Dead to Rights" had better action-adventure marketability than the more peaceful sounding "Donato and Daughter"...but that's just my theory.
film is mostly about an extremely strained relationship between a veteran of
the police force, Sgt. Mike Donato (Bronson) and his daughter, Lt. Dena
Donato (Delany). On the surface you may think that the strained
relationship has to do with Mike's daughter out-ranking him at the
police station but in reality it goes much deeper than that. Although
Mike is overprotective and is prone to second guessing his daughter's
ideas it's revealed that he once had a son (her brother, Tommy) whose
circumstances surrounding his death have been kept a mystery to Dena.
All she knows is her brother happened to be a policeman, too.
main plot surrounds the murders of several nuns in Los Angeles. Dealing
with reporter's questions one day, a reporter said to Dena: "So, what
you're saying is all the nun's living in L.A. have nothing to fear..."
and she shot back: "I wouldn't presume to say that about anyone in
L.A.". In the movie Dena's best friend is another officer named
Judy...but she's murdered about half an hour into the movie up on a roof
top during a chase scene. If this chaos and turmoil isn't enough, Dena's mother reveals
that she once seen visual evidence that connected Tommy to various drug
runners and underground organizations but that Mike is unaware that she
knows of Tommy's drug connection. The mother says that Tommy only became a
cop to please Mike.
On the investigation side of things the
police have several suspects as the nun killer. One suspect doesn't pan
out...he happens to be an artist who lives in an elaborate home studio
and just doesn't seem to be the type they're looking for. In the
meantime suspect 2 is a creepy businessman named Russ Loring. He's
approached by Mike and is questioned...but Russ insists on their getting
a search warrant and give specific detail about obscure facts
surrounding police searches. Mike curiously states: "You seem to know a
lot about police procedures" and Russ replies "I guess it's all that
reality programming on television.". A line like that, from 1993 no
less, is hugely ironic considering the kinds of programs that eventually
found their way on television in the following decade! During a
confrontation with a junkie Mike discovers that there's some crazed man
dressing up in a nun's outfit.
A little less than an hour later,
viewers learn that suspect 2 is indeed the nun killer and from this
point forward it becomes a cat and mouse game. One of the memorable
scenes at this point in the film is seeing Russ holding up a jar of
fingers that he cut off from the nuns he murdered.
meanwhile, decides she's had enough of being home alone most days and
nights. She tells Mike that she's going away for awhile and tells him
she's become lonely.
Mike pays a visit to Russ' mother's shack.
He tells her that he feels that her son is the murderer of several nuns
and several other women. In a shocking and chilling twist, the mother
(Julianna McCarthy) doesn't feel shame or regret...she actually makes excuses for Russ and
says that if her son killed anybody then they must have deserved it.
Later, Mike puts together a collage of the murdered nuns and realizes
each of them fit a similar profile. Each victim is dark haired and
young. Dena gets this look of vulnerability on her face and looks as if
she's wondering is she'll be the next victim given her age and dark
Throughout this chain of events Mike and Dena become
friendlier toward one another without even realizing it. But just as if
it looks like the father and daughter will become nice to each other
permanently she asks about Tommy once more. Mike reveals that Tommy
didn't get killed in the line of fire as he had let the public at large
believe in a press conference. Instead, Tommy committed suicide by
overdosing on drugs.
Mike and Dena are later eating at a
restaurant and they encounter Russ. Later, Russ rushes home and is
encountered by his wife (played by Bronson's future wife, Kim Weeks) who wants to know why she found a police suit in
their house (it happened to be one his various disguises). She attempts
to get the police but he stabs her multiple times in the stomach with a knife. Given
that this is a made-for-TV movie there's no graphic imagery as there
definitely would have been if it had been a theatrical release or a
direct-to-video release. Instead, all the viewers see is Russ pushing his
arm into his wife's stomach several times, knowing he had a knife in his hand as he approached her.
Russ eventually takes
Dena as a hostage after everyone closes in on his location. He insists
on having a helicopter delivered so he can escape. The movie's climax
takes place on the roof top. As the helicopter arrives and hovers a bit
too close to the side of the building Dena falls from Russ' arms. Russ
bends forward in an attempt to take her hostage once more but by then
Mike's arrived on the scene and shoots Russ multiple times. The film
ends as Mike and Dena walk along the roof top and as the two of them talk their voices fade to
the closing music.
As a made-for-TV movie it carries a lot of quieter
musical overtones during emotional scenes...lots of piano and softer
sounding accompaniment and visually it comes off as a television
All in all it's a good movie!
The one thing left
unresolved is Mike's future with his wife. It's to be assumed that she
eventually returned and he finally retired from the police force.
I've been updating my Charles Bronson collection. I've started to replace the VHS tapes with DVD copies. I started this a couple of weeks ago. I hadn't seen a lot of those VHS movies because I hadn't had an active VCR in awhile and so it's nice to have them on DVD finally. Here's some of the films I've recently purchased on DVD that originally I only had on VHS...
Here's the photo of the DVD combo "10 to Midnight" and "Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects"...