Welcome to the third week of Buried Credits, a column that deep dives into the IMDB pages of favorite actors, directors, and writers to find their lost, forgotten or unknown film and TV credits. This week’s actor…
Beaches was my first Barbara Hershey movie but given I don’t remember anything but the sad part (and Bette Midler sings, right?) the first time I actually woke up to her acting was on Once Upon a Time. As the Evil Queen’s mother, Cora, Hershey was the epitome of excellent, and for a show where the flashback excuse is always in play, to bring back characters who otherwise have no business still being around, Cora has managed to rise from the dead numerous times. Why? Flashback Barbara Hershey isn’t enough. Even after last season’s exit, which had the ring of permanence to it, I wouldn’t write her character off. But in preparation for the possibility Cora’s death sticks, the time has come to look into other IMDB sources to grow more acquainted with her talents.
Frogs for Snakes (1998)
Directed and Written by Amos Poe
With a movie like Frogs for Snakes, it’s better to drop all pretense of deeper significance and enjoy the film at its ridiculous surface level. Because yeah, Frogs for Snakes could be a meditation on the dog eat dog world of show business but it’s also a movie that imagines a New York where every mobster is enrolled in the same acting class, and killing for parts is about the only mob business that’s ever accomplished.
Barbara Hershey is Eva, a wig toting money collector by night, mom, waitress, and monologue adviser by day. All of her friends claim that she’s the best actor in their group but, fed up with the people in the industry, she hasn’t been going to class lately. The people in the industry are also the people she collects for so she’s not liking that gig much either. Eva wants out, and if all goes according to plan she and her young son are moving away from the city and starting a new life for themselves.
Of course, whenever someone says they’re getting out of the mob unresolved business appears to put a wrench in the time table. Or does it? Eva doesn’t leave right away but her continued involvement seems more by choice than by force. Ex-husband and mob boss, Al Santana (Robbie Coltrane), tries to saddle her with the routine “last job before you leave” hitch but she turns it down.
Which makes Frogs for Snakes such a laudable, laughable movie (that and the casual spewing of names like “Flav” and “Klench” all the time—don’t even bother trying to keep those straight, this isn’t The Wire, you don’t need to know). There is no tension. There’s plenty of eye rolling, ‘guess I have to clean up their mess again,’ kvetching but no risk. At one point Eva thinks her son might’ve been kidnapped. No worries, though, he’s only on the roof. Let’s keep driving and check on him later.
I don’t think a cop shows up once, which makes sense since the casual gun carrying by EVERYONE would need to be explained otherwise. People mindlessly get shot (the leg’s a favorite spot) but the violence and death scenes are so badly realized Eva’s life never seems in danger and the compulsion to keep watching comes from wanting to see who shows up next.
The actors roped into doing this movie are the best (John Leguizamo, Ian Hart, Ron Perlman, Clarence Williams III, Justin Theroux, Debi Mazer, Harry Hamlin) and the lines (Myrna (Lisa James) becomes a late favorite for her wise “The more you drive, the less intelligent you are,” insight) make this a Saturday night movie to beat.
Overall: Buried Treasure
How much you enjoy Frogs for Snakes will depend on how much enjoyment you get out of mobsters going into full movie monologues like they’re in a Shakespeare play. It certainly tickled my sense of humor.
Check back tomorrow for a look at Barbara Hershey’s performance in a film with Monty Python connections.