Stars: Stacy Keach, Robert Loggia, Scott Wilson, Jason Miller, Ed Flanders
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Thriller
Runtime: 113 minutes
The lunatics are running the asylum... but are they really lunatics? Is Colonel Kane (Stacy Keach) really a noted psychiatrist, assigned to supervise patients in an experimental government clinic, or is he really "Killer" Kane, a decorated U.S. Marine who committed atrocities in Vietnam before going insane? And why did Captain Cutshaw (Scott Wilson) go berserk just seconds before a scheduled rocket launch? These are just some of the puzzles that will eventually be solved in The Ninth Configuration, a giddy and often brilliant drama created by William Peter Blatty, who wrote The Exorcist before directing this adaptation of his own novel, Twinkle, Twinkle, Killer Kane. A satirical study of war's traumatic aftermath, the film uses battle psychosis as the springboard for a delirious and scathingly intelligent human tragedy, laced with some of the wittiest dialogue you're ever likely to hear. The movie boasts a veritable menagerie of crazy characters, all brought vividly to life by a stellar supporting cast. One patient is preparing a production of Shakespeare with an all-dog cast. Another is convinced he's Superman, and the resident doctor can't seem to find his trousers. But there's a method to this madness, and it takes a barroom brawl--one of the most memorable in movie history--to provide the harsh slap of reality to Blatty's elaborate group therapy scheme. When the true purpose of The Ninth Configuration is revealed, the film (and particularly the fine performances of Keach and Wilson) reveals a depth of compassionate sanity that may take you completely by surprise. --Jeff Shannon
Col. Vincent Kane:
In order for life to have appeared spontaneously on earth, there first had to be hundreds of millions of protein molecules of the ninth configuration. But given the size of the planet Earth, do you know how long it would have taken for just one of these protein molecules to appear entirely by chance? Roughly ten to the two hundred and forty-third power billions of years. And I find that far, far more fantastic than simply believing in God.
Maybe we're just fish out of water.
Col. Richard Fell:
What was that?
I just think about sickness, cancer in children, earthquakes, war, painful death. Death, just death. If these things are just part of our natural environment why do we think of them as evil? Why do they horrify us so?... unless we were meant for someplace else.