In his 30s, director James Foley was in a pretty good groove. I’m talking about an eight-year period in the ’80s and early ’90s. The R-rated Reckless (’84) was nothing to get overly excited about, but then came At Close Range (’86), which I’ve long regarded as Foley’s near-masterpiece.
Next was Who’s That Girl (’87), a mostly misbegotten screwball comedy with Madonna, followed by an edgy, hard-boiled noir called After Dark, My Sweet (’90), which I don’t even remember. But then Foley rebounded big-time with the flinty, hard-boiled, universally admired Glengarry Glen Ross (’92).
Foley directed six decent but mezzo-mezzo dramas between ’95 and ’07 — Two Bits (’95), The Chamber (’96), Fear (’96), The Corruptor (’99), Confidence (’03) and Perfect Stranger (’07). And then he more or less shifted over to a journeyman TV realm. Foley directed 12 episodes of House of Cards between ’13 and ’15, and two episodes of Billions in ’16.
And then — aahck! aahck! — Foley returned to features last year by directing 50 Shades Darker, which no one paid the slightest attention to, and then he doubled down on this dubious association with the about-to-open 50 Shades Freed.
I re-watched At Close Range last year and really re-admired it, and everyone swears by Glengarry Glen Ross. We all have to pay the rent, the butcher and the plumber, but it seems a shame that the guy who finessed these two films and made them into semi-classics is currently reduced to the 50 Shades realm.