Body of Evidence  (1993) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

I live in Austin, Texas, which can be an unforgiving movie town when it comes to bullshit.

When Marjorie Baumgarten of the Austin Chronicle reviewed this film on January 22, 1993, she wrote: "The audience's hoot and chortle response was at full throttle at the screening I attended".

That should give you the (correct) idea that we ain't dealin' with Battleship Potemkin here. In fact, many people felt that this was the low point of Madonna's acting career.

Although at the time they wrote that, they could not have seen Swept Away.

Now that I think about it, Swept Away would be the low point of anyone's acting career, possibly excepting Shemp Howard and Mary Catherine O'Neill, a girl in my fourth grade. Mary Kate could never even play a buttercup convincingly. I always thought she was much more like a poinsettia.

Thinking about it still further, finding the low point of Madonna's acting career is an exercise akin to finding the lowest altitude in Death Valley.


  • Madonna shows everything several times.
  • Julianne Moore shows her breasts and buns during and after sex.
  • Anne Archer's body double shows her breasts and buns in a scene on video tape.
  • Willem Dafoe shows his buns in a sex scene with Moore.

Back in 1992, the softcore S&M murder mystery Basic Instinct turned into an unexpected box office bonanza. Hollywood being Hollywood, this situation spurred a rash of Basic Instinct clones and copycat films almost immediately. Very soon after it became apparent that Basic Instinct would make a bunch of moolah, somebody thought it would be a great idea to take an established erotic presence (Madonna) and feature her as the kinky lead in an erotically charged S&M murder mystery, Body of Evidence.

It's hard to imagine now, but someone also thought it was a good idea to have Madonna be the murder weapon as well as the murderess. She is on trial for marrying a rich old guy with a bad heart, getting him to change his will, then turning him on day and night until she fucked him to death. Huh? Is that a crime? Her lawyer said to the D.A., in dead imitation of Basic Instinct, "it's not a crime to be a great lay", whereupon the D.A. rejoined, "if it were, I'd have to indict myself". Actually, that line was sorta funny, but it was also the highlight of the script, if that tells you anything.

Madonna reads the reviews.

As if the film's concept weren't bad enough, the execution is dreadful:

  • As a thriller, it fails miserably. Most of the non-sex scenes take place in a courtroom, and they include the usual movie trial clichés designed to make us vacillate between "she did it" and "she didn't", with complete disregard for the actual rules of courtroom procedure. The acting is flat and passionless, as if the entire cast were impersonating the Stepford Wives. Or maybe they were all trying to impersonate Madonna, in order to make her line readings seem normal.
  • It is better as an erotic film, but still just OK. There is a lot of sex, but the sex scenes are much too dark, and completely joyless. The sex acts are also completely unimaginative except for one inspired moment when Madonna hangs from the ceiling in a parking garage while Dafoe performs cunnilingus on her. Although the film's publicists touted the sex scenes as daring, the actual action was no more daring than somebody dripping candle wax on somebody else. The very long woman-on-top sex scene between Madonna and Dafoe was barely visible in flickering candlelight. Even David Fincher was probably thinking "note to self: buy some lights" during that scene.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • widescreen anamorphic 1.85:1.

  • r-rated and unrated version on the same DVD

  • very brief making-of documentary and trailer

Although I didn't really like the sex scenes, there are some positives to the film as a work of softcore erotica.
  • Madonna's body was firm and sexy, her breasts beautiful.
  • Madonna was probably the most famous woman in the world at the time, and many people found her to be very beautiful.
  • There is full-frontal nudity.
  • There is a scene of either real cunnilingus or a tremendous simulation.
Tuna's overview in yellow:


To give you an idea of just how poorly made this film was, I would like to run through the last few minutes. Madonna is on the stand, with a presiding judge who is a prude and has ruled over the proceedings with a heavy hand. The DA begins arguing with Madonna, and she argues back, but nobody complains. Then Madonna states that she left her previous rich boyfriend with heart trouble because she caught him in bed with a man. The DA counters with, sure, you can say anything you want, because he is not here to defend himself. She says, "Yes, he is." Pan to gay guy in the back of the courtroom, who testifies from the gallery by nodding his head up and down. I am sure this judge would have permitted this. Right. When the jury comes back in, and the foreman reads the verdict, which he has filed out and signed a few minutes before, he says, "We find the defendant," pauses, opens and reads the verdict form, then continues, "not guilty." Did he forget in 10 minutes which way they had voted?

Madonna then whispers in her attorney's ear, "Thanks. You almost convinced me." What could she possibly have had to gain by admitting her guilt to him? Then, it gets even worse. Following the old-fashioned Hays Code rule that criminals always have to be punished, Madonna, her attorney, and the doctor who helped her commit the murder are in a confrontation in her apartment. Madonna and the doctor struggle with her gun, it goes off, and she falls to the floor. The white blouse she is wearing is still completely white. The attorney struggles with the doctor, knocking him down a flight of stairs, then notices that Madonna has been shot in the neck. I am sorry, but a gun shot to the neck from 3 or 4 inches away would have put at least one drop of blood on that white blouse. And come to think of it, when did they decide to switch to action film from courtroom drama/erotic thriller for the exciting conclusion?

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: less than a star. Ebert .5/4, Berardinelli 1/4.

  • The film was nominated for every major razzie, and Madonna won for "worst actress"

The People Vote ...

  • with their dollars: made for $30 million dollars, it grossed $13 million in the USA.


IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, Scoop says, "it is a C as a piece of softcore erotica, E as a thriller. Either way, it isn't very good". Tuna says, "As a thriller, this is terrible. Even as an erotic thriller, most of the nude scenes were dark, and sometimes shot with strangle lighting and through curtains. I am a fan of courtroom dramas, and this could have interested me were the courtroom developments not nearly as dramatic. For me, this is a D- at best."

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