Malcolm Anderson is a reporter for a Miami newspaper. He’s had enough of reporting the local murders and so promises his school teacher girlfriend (Christine), they’ll move away soon. Before Malcolm can hand in his notice, the murderer from his latest article phones him. The murderer tells Malcolm that he’s going to kill again. The phone calls and murders continue, soon Malcolm finds that he’s not just reporting the story, he is the story.
The Mean Season is a 1985 American crime-thriller film directed by Phillip Borsos and stars Kurt Russell, Mariel Hemingway, Richard Jordan, Richard Masur, Joe Pantoliano and Andy García. The screenplay was written by Leon Piedmont, based on the novel In the Heat of the Summer by John Katzenbach.
The film was named after the term of the same name that refers to a pattern of weather that occurs in Florida during the late summer months. In order to achieve accuracy for the scenes that take place in the busy newsroom, the filmmakers used Miami Herald reporters as on-set consultants and extras and shot in the actual newsroom as opposed to recreating it on a soundstage.
Review for The Mean Season
THE thriller ”The Mean Season” reveals how much can go wrong for a reporter who enjoys a symbiotic relationship with his source – particularly when the source is a serial murderer who enjoys seeing his name in print. When Malcolm Anderson (Kurt Russell), a reporter for a Miami newspaper, gets his first call from a man later dubbed ”The Numbers Killer,” Malcolm is stimulated and mildly flattered. The killer, after all, says he likes Malcolm’s writing and is offering him quite an exclusive. Malcolm has caught his attention by locating a snapshot of the man’s first victim and describing it as ”all that remained of her tragically short life.”
Only later do the ethical questions raised by this interchange become apparent, as do the dangers. The killer has begun to take far too active an interest in Malcolm’s private life, and he has an ugly temper. ”I’m doing the work and you get put on TV!” he complains after watching Malcolm being interviewed on a news program. His tone is distinctly menacing and, inevitably, he makes good on his implicit threat.
Philip Borsos, who directed ”The Grey Fox,” builds the suspense of ”The Mean Season” slowly and, for the most part, very effectively. He presents Malcolm as the kind of avid, tireless, casually chic journalist most commonly found in movies, the kind whose love for his work is his greatest liability. Eventually, Malcolm’s dedication brings him afoul of the police, who resent his interference, and jeopardizes his girlfriend, a schoolteacher played by Mariel Hemingway. There isn’t much chemistry between the two stars, but Mr. Russell, solidly likable even when Malcolm’s new-found celebrity begins to interfere with his judgment, has some very powerful scenes with Richard Jordan. Mr. Jordan puts in an amazing appearance near the end of the story.
”The Mean Season,” based on a novel by John Katzenbach, has a brisk pace and a lot of momentum. It also has a few more suprises than the material needed, since Mr. Borsos, who for the most part works in a tense, streamlined style, likes red herrings. Toward the end of the film, he mitigates the considerable suspense by playing a couple of dirty tricks on the viewer.
The Mean Season (1985)
Directed by: Phillip Borsos
Starring: Kurt Russell, Mariel Hemingway, Richard Jordan, Richard Masur, Richard Bradford, Andy Garcia, Rose Portillo, Fritz Bronner
Screenplay by: Leon Piedmont
Production Design by: Philip M. Jefferies
Cinematography by: Frank Tidy
Film Editing by: Duwayne Dunham
Costume Design by: Julie Weiss
Music by: Lalo Schifrin
Distributed by: Orion Pictures
Release Date: February 15, 1985