When Mr. Ayres invited me to pen a piece for Man-Out-Of-Prison Month, I had planned to focus on wannabe-gritty, prison-picture cum revenge-thriller An Innocent Man, which, for star Tom Selleck, represented a metaphorical furlough from the light comedies (Three Men and a Baby, Three Men and a Little Lady, Her Alibi) in which his career was imprisoned.
That said, An Innocent Man remains a guilty pleasure for me – I believe David James Keaton holds the film in similar high regard – not least for the pivotal plot point involving a handheld hair dryer. With the exception of Teen Wolf, I can think of few other films that depict the heterosexual male lead blow-drying his hair. (Real men towel- or air-dry or shave their heads.)
Out on parole after 8-years inside, reformed drug-dealer and top-class nutjob ‘Wild Bill’ Hayward returns to his East London stomping ground, determined never to go back to prison.
(So far, so man-out-of-prison movie.)
When social services get involved, Bill’s eldest blackmails his old man into masquerading as a responsible parent, and a grudging bond develops between father and sons, as Bill resists the lure of his old gangster pals and attempts to go straight.
In some respects, Wild Bill is as clichéd as man-out-of-prison movies come. Filled with stock characters – the ‘tart with a heart’ prostitute, and not least, the ex-con determined to go straight. And yet, this familiar story of a deadbeat dad reconnecting with his sons, and sacrificing himself to save them from repeating his mistakes, is so lovingly made, and winningly performed, that you can’t help but warm it.