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JESSE STONE: NIGHT PASSAGE (2006)

Director: Robert Harmon

Screenplay: Tom Epperson
(Based upon the books and characters of Robert B. Parker)

Starring: Tom Selleck, Stephanie March, Stephen Baldwin, Polly Shannon, Saul Rubinek, Vito Rezza, Viola Davis, Kohl Sudduth, Stephen McHattie...

Made-for-TV movie.
Available on DVD.
Not rated. Color. 89 minutes.

Genre: Mystery/crime


Reviewed by Cherie Jung

"Stone Cold" was the first in this made-for-TV movie series featuring a down-on-his-luck, ex-cop from LA who somehow ends up as the chief of police in a small New England coastal town.

Stone arrives "smelling of a brewery" for his interview with the town's officials. Throughout the movie, Stone keeps asking people, "Would you have hired me?" then continues, " I wouldn't hire me."

"Night Passage" is a prequel to "Stone Cold" and viewers get to see why this small town would hire an ex-cop with a drinking problem. Hint: they're hoping he stays drunk enough not to notice the shenanigans going on around him. Unfortunately, a domestic violence incident leads to more serious crimes and secrets the influential citizens of Paradise would rather stay unrevealed. Despite his drinking problems, Stone is a cop and he doesn't take his duties lightly.

I can't say I'm a Tom Selleck (Magnum, P.I.) fan but I do think he is perfect for the world weary Jesse Stone. Off hand, I can't imagine anyone else doing the role justice. All of the cast members fit their characters. Stephen Baldwin is so creepy as Joe Genest that I still feel a shiver whenever I think back to his portrayal of a wife- beating jerk with no visible means of support but plenty of cash. Molly Crane (Viola Davis) practically steals the show every scene that she's in as Stone's put-upon dispatcher. She is a cop, too, you know but is pretty much relegated to answering the telephone...and she doesn't bring coffee to anyone. Just ask her! But the true scene stealer is Boomer, Stone's hounddog and closest companion.

Although a made-for-TV movie it doesn't have a made-for-TV feel or look to it. The cinematography is as good as any feature film, the casting is precise, the story engaging, and the music better than most feature films. The pacing may seem a bit slow to some viewers but I personally appreciated the meandering pace. I grew up in a small town and I remember how things were. Small towns have a pace of their own, no matter how you try to kick things up a notch.

Not only will I be watching the other movies in this series, I am looking forward to watching "Night Passage" again.

Other titles in this series include Stone Cold, Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise, and Jesse Stone: Sea Change.

Don't forget, you can rent the Jesse Stone DVDs at video rental stores or mail-in stores like Netflix. You might even be able to check them out from your local library.

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