Home > 1980 - 1989 > Maxie
Year - 1985
Studio - Orion
Stars - Glenn Close, Mandy Patinkin, Ruth Gordon, Barnard Hughes
Director - Paul Aaron
Writing Credits - Jack Finney (novel), Patricia Resnick (screenplay)
Music - Georges Delerue
Jan (Glenn Close) and Nick (Mandy Patinkin) are a young married couple in San Francisco. He's a rare books expert, she's an office manager at the local Catholic diocese. While steaming layers of wallpaper from their old apartment, they find a message on the wall, written in lipstick, "Maxie Malone lived here, March 3, 1927, Read It and Weep!!" Nick learns from their neighbor, Mrs. Lavin (Ruth Gordon), that Maxie Malone was her best friend and an aspiring actress, tragically killed in a car accident, the night before a screen test with D.W. Griffith.
Jan, curious about Maxie's life, rents an old silent film with her only screen appearance, seen briefly at a party scene. After watching it, a disembodied woman's voice asks him to play it again. He assumes he's imagining it, but the form of a lovely woman in 20's flapper attire materializes before him, the ghost of Maxie. He excitedly wakes Jan to tell her what has happened, and she indulges him in what she assumes was a dream.
Nick and Jan attend a stodgy fund raising party, where Jan orders a wine spritzer. All of a sudden the shy and conservative Jan behaves bold and brassy, and she becomes the life of the party by belting out a bawdy rendition of "Bye Bye Blackbird." Nick realizes that Maxie's ghost has taken over Jan's body.
Maxie's possession of Jan comes and goes over the next few days, frightening Mrs. Lavin who recognizes the spirit of her acting partner from the 20's. Jan's boss, the Bishop (Barnard Hughes) is convinced that an exorcist should be consulted. And Jan accuses Nick of infidelity for sleeping with Maxie, in her body.
Maxie tries out at a Charleston dance contest and is invited to be in a movie shoot. Her performance as a damsel in distress turns out to be for a deodorant commercial, not the big comeback she sought. But her appearance gets her the chance to take part in the highly publicized national auditions for the big screen remake of "Cleopatra" in Hollywood. Nick agrees to the Hollywood trip if Maxie consents to then depart from Jan's body forever.
Maxie is triumphant in her screen test opposite Harry Hamlin as Marc Antony, and she excitedly tells Nick about her plans for making it and other films. He reminds of her of her promise, and she realizes that her comeback can be even greater if she disappears, becoming one of the great Hollywood mysteries.
As Nick and Jan return to San Francisco, Jan, now free of Maxie, is vaguely aware of what has been happening and, through the experience, is more confident about her own potential.