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Scarecrow on Seattle: POWER

For the past few years, Scarecrow Video has been contributing reviews of movies made in the Pacific Northwest to the Seattle Office of Film + Music's e-newsletter. We're now proud to be able to share these reviews on our site as well.






Power (1986)
In the later half of the 1980s I didn't live in Seattle but I would regularly come to the city for Bumbershoot and nearly always parked in a pay lot near the intersection of Denny and Dexter. Remember the old strip club called Razzmatazz? That's the parking lot I'm talking about. In the late Sidney Lumet's film Power there is an establishing shot for a portion of the film which takes place in Seattle that is nearly the same view I fondly remember and this vista takes me back to more innocent days spent at a reasonably priced outdoor music festival. With the words "Seattle Washington" superimposed on the bottom of the image, the camera pans right starting with the Pink Elephant Car Wash and moves to the north showing the 24 hour pancake restaurant across Aurora Avenue that is now a Shell gas station. Next we see the mighty Space Needle gazing down at the Seattle Center and the shot ends on the former location of the KIXI radio station (now the home of KEXP). But what of the rest of the film? In many ways Power can be seen as a companion piece to the director's earlier masterpiece Network. Both films deal with the use of television and other forms of media in order to manipulate the masses. While both movies are inevitably dated considering the rapid growth of technology over the past twenty years, Network still holds up quite well but Power is all but forgotten by most everyone except for hardcore Richard Gere fans. Gere stars (with a moustache) as a big-time political consultant named Pete St. John with several different clients. He coaches them, oversees their appearances, edits their speeches, and does his best to predict and control public opinion. Ultimately, Pete makes the shocking (and obvious) discovery that politicians are corrupt! Lumet's directing is solid (as usual) and the cast is jammed packed with both veterans and rising stars. Alongside Gere, Power also features Gene Hackman, Julie Christie, Kate Capshaw, Denzel Washington, E.G. Marshall, Fritz Weaver J.T. Walsh and Matt Salinger. Pete spends some time in Seattle with Governor Andrea Stannard (Michael Learned). Aside from the aforementioned nostalgic Seattle shot, other Jet City scenes include a boat race through the Montlake Cut and Governor Stannard's competition (played by Beatrice Straight) shoots a commercial in front of the Volunteer Park Conservatory. Other than those few incidents there isn't a lot of Seattle in Power but there is a short bit filmed on location at Kirk's Rock (aka Vasquez Rocks). I just mention this because I am an old school Star Trek nerd.
--Spenser Hoyt


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