Murder Ordained Film Details
Overview: Based on the true story of a bedroom-eyed Kansas preacher who decided that getting rid of his wife, and his secretary’s husband, was the will of the Lord.
Review: SPOILERS. A Biblical moral tale. Meaning it has adultery, blasphemy, murder, hypocrisy, money, and outright michigas. It could have been dreamed up by Cecil B. DeMille while on mushrooms except that it really happened. The story is fundamental so I’ll just describe it in passing. Jo Beth Williams is unhappily married to a loud but affable drunk. The local pastor, Terry Kinney, is unhappily married to a star college student who’s got money. Williams is bored and Kinney is bored. She comes on to him and he throws down the ten commandments. In fact, at the first opportunity, he throws HER on the office desk. Thereafter they very indiscreetly hold hands in public, disappear for whole afternoons together, and rut in seedy motels like two razorbacks in heat. This is Emporia, Kansas, a small town in which everybody soon begins to suspect what’s going on, except Williams’ dull ox of a husband and Kinney’s worried but somewhat witless wife. Upshot: At Williams’ prompting, Kinney offs his wife by staging the world’s clumsiest imitation of a traffic accident. A bit of insurance money rolls in, enough to make Kinney’s eyes glow with pleasure but not enough to satisfy the more practical Willaims. “Is five thousand enough?” she asks winsomely while he grins and blathers on about how this is just “seed money” for the new religious counseling center he plans to build. (Her religiosity bears about the same relationship to the rest of her character as the earth’s biosphere does to the rest of our planet. The biosphere has best been described as “a green smear.”) Well, the truth is, that staged accident doesn’t look more than usually like a typical traffic accident to the practiced eye of Highway Trooper Keith Carradine. He begins to question his findings at the scene. Just for instance, if she was in her car when it rolled down an embankment and turned over in the river before her body was flung out, then what is a big splotch of the wife’s blood doing five feet up on a tree trunk in the wrong place? The thick plottens. So much for Kinney’s trusting wife. But what about Williams’ dull husband? They get a middleman to stage a fake robbery on the side of a highway and hubby gets plugged in the head three or four times. Williams claims to have pulled off the highway because she was nauseated and had to ralph. But she takes the car keys with her, crawls far off the pavement, and calls to her husband to help her find the keys. And a masked man appears out of nowhere and just shoots him. It all looks suspicious to John Goodman, another state cop. There are a series of foul ups and the investigation seems to be getting nowhere, to the extent that it hasn’t been buried completely. This frustrates Carradine who continues to plug away at the case. His persistence in turn irritates the state bureau of investigation who understandably don’t want to turn out looking like quasi-moronic dolts for having done nothing, in case these incidents turn out to be homicides. Well, they do so turn out. The hired assassin rolls on the preacher and his floozy. The preacher is convicted of conspiracy to murder Williams’ husband, and he goes to jail. Then, upon the further gathering of evidence, they try him for his wife’s murder and he’s convicted of that too. That amounts to a lot of time in the slams for him, as far as Williams is concerned. She has proved herself to be a thoroughly impatient, bored, nymphomaniacal housewife given to taking joint baths with local Romeos. Besides, collecting insurance is out of the question after Kinney’s conviction. The best scene in the movie is when she attends church again at the urging of her imprisoned ex-lover and makes eye contact with some guy singing in the chorus. She practically radiates willingness as she smiles at the poor guy, tears forming in her eyes, begging for spiritual guidance and a vigorous roll in the hay. I couldn’t stop laughing. In fact, Williams is pretty good. She demonstrates a fine range of control here, sending out all sorts of mixed and unmixed signals. Kinney is good too. He’s pale and blonde, like William Hurt in “Body Heat,” and looks innocent. (Compared to Williams, he’s a babe in the woods.) But his eyes are very close together and they are lighted so that they appear shadowed. It’s as if they were an expression of the tragic flaw he’s got going for him, like Coriolanus’ ambition. The whole production is professionally done. Everyone, the director included, seems to know what he or she is doing. It’s a longie, of course, but it doesn’t drag, as it so easily might have had we been given more quality time with the children of the various families. Christmas celebrations, kids crying and needing to be comforted and reassured, hugs galore — the sort of thing that might make you too pull off the road and boot in the grass. Not that family life is ignored. Just that it keeps its proper place and is never a distraction, let alone a substitute, for this generic tale of unlikely deeds on the part of unlikely people.
Duration: 185 min
Genre: Crime, Drama
Also known as: Murder Ordained,Uświęcone morderstwo,Nel nome del Signore,Blutige Hände,En el nombre del Señor,Ein geweihter Mörder,Bortom all misstanke,Assalto Mortífero