Jewellery Cruise: Sex, Love and Cold Hard Cash (1993)

Dave is wowed by a USA Network original that’s the perfect blend of thrills, spills and sassy one-liners.

“I liked the fact I got to play a high class hooker!”

JoBeth Williams achieved iconic status in genre cinema as suburban housewife Diane Freeling in Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist (1982) – but by the beginning of the ‘90s, roles with spark seemed in short supply.

“In the last few years, many of the stories sound similar,”, she confided to Jay Bobbin. “The networks are basically interested in doing ‘reality’ movies now, so they’re usually about a woman who murders her husband, or a son who murders his father, and so on. Some of them are quite wonderful, but they all start to feel the same to me. That’s why this film appealed to me; an old-fashioned movie for fun with a slightly off-centre approach to the dialogue.” [1]

The film in question is the riotously enjoyable SEX, LOVE AND COLD HARD CASH; a ‘romantic thriller’ with a wily edge that finds Williams spearheading an impressive ensemble who are, collectively, on fire.

Williams is Sarah Gallagher: a call girl on the cusp of retirement who gave her life savings ($750k) to an investment banker who then ran off with the loot. In a twist of fate, Gallagher meets Douglas Colson (Tony Denison): a con who’s just got out of the joint following a spell inside for his part in a racetrack robbery. Before his arrest, though, Colson stashed his share – a cool $1 million – in the desert, only to find that, post-release, a property developer has built on the land. Recognising a degree of coincidence in their economical tales of woe, Colson agrees to help Sarah track down the AWOL accountant in an adventure that takes them on board a cruise ship headed for the Caymans.

An award-winning photographer since his movie career ended with a pair of Alien Nation telepics, a cursory glance down writer/director Harry Longstreet’s resume never really hinted at him having something as brilliant as Sex, Love and Cold Hard Cash up his sleeve. Much of the ’80s was spent churning out episodic TV like V and Fame, so to stumble across such a finely written frolic as this is a delight. Longstreet’s script dazzles from start to finish, and the rat-tat-tat exchanges between Gallagher and Douglas will make you grin from ear to ear.

Complementing Williams and Denison are familiar faces like Eric Pierpoint, Tobin Bell, and Vanishing Point (1971) helmer Richard Sarafian. There’s also a memorable (if uncredited) appearance from Robert Forster as a hitman in hot pursuit of the stubbornly flirtatious couple.

Sex, Love and Cold Hard Cash debuted on the USA Network on 12th May 1993, accompanied by the irresistible tagline “a love story with larceny on its mind”. Rick Kogan of the Chicago Tribune deemed it “a terrific movie” and “a first rate thriller” before suggesting that it was about time the station came up with a winner [2]. I’d respectfully disagree on that last point – but my admiration for this little-known caper is certainly comparable.

USA ● 1993 ● Thriller, TVM ● 86mins

JoBeth Williams, Tony Denison, Eric Pierpoint, Tobin Bell, Robert Forster (uncredited) ● Wri./Dir. Harry Longstreet

[1] Williams Pursues ‘Cold Hard Cash’ by Jay Bobbin, Tribune Media Services, 8th May 1993.
[2] TV Reviews by Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune, 10th May 1993.

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