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Netflix Daily Pick: Biding Time in ‘An Innocent Man’ (1989)

Today it's a crime drama about a man with nothing to lose.

An Innocent Man is a 1989 drama about a man who is framed for a crime he didn’t commit and now must try to survive in world he not equipped to handle.

Today’s Netflix pick is an underseen title starring one of the biggest television stars of the 80s, a film that certainly isn’t all that original but is well-directed and acted nonetheless. There’s something about a good prison movie that makes for great entertainment, maybe because so few of us really experience it. Tom Selleck was already an icon on TV playing the titular Magnum P.I. when he was cast here, playing alongside Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham and he does some great work, making it all the more curious why hee never made a successful leap to the big screen. Either way, this is a flawed but highly-compelling little thriller the deserves more attention. It’s An Innocent Man and it’s what you’re watching tonight. Here’s why.

THE STORY: Directed by the great Peter Yates, who is best known for Bullitt (1968), Breaking Away (1979) and Krull (1983), An Innocent Man follows the tragic story of James “Jimmie” Rainwood (Selleck), you’re average Joe who gets caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, in this case, his very own house. When a couple of corrupt cops, high on cocaine, mistake his home for someone else’s, and when things get out of hand, they set him up as a drug dealer, landing him in prison. Now he’s got to navigate his through the horrors of time behind bars, avoiding many who want to harm him, or worse. He makes a few friends though, including fellow inmate Virgil Cane (Abraham), who offers some advice for surviving and then more when a crucial day comes.

An Innocent Man
An Innocent Man, 1989 © Interscope Communications

WHY YOU NEED TO WATCH: It’s all Selleck here and while the the plot might seem a little contrived, there’s great acting from the cast and Yates keeps things clicking right along. And as predictable maybe as the story might be, it’s handled well with plenty of believable setups and knockdowns. Selleck is really convincing as the titular innocent man and while we know he is from the start, we see what being so costs him in a situation where innocence can get you killed. Great stuff.

An Innocent Man
An Innocent Man, 1989 © Interscope Communications

Pay attention to Abraham as well, a strong character with some great moments. Abraham has always been a consistently reliable actor and like his Award-winning turn in Amadeus a few year prior to this, does equally good work as a big fish in a little pond. While it might not have the staying power of The Shawshank Redemption, lacking perhaps some of the wonder of that film, An Innocent Man is nonetheless well-worth adding to the queue. It’s streaming on Netflix right now.

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