"Whether she was watching me or not, I don't know. I only knew that I was moving again...away from her and Uncle Bud. I felt kinda sad in a way, but at the same time, I felt good."
Kevin Collins (Jason Patric), a basically nice, honest guy who isn't dumb but who doesn't think so fast, should have kept going. But he returns to Fay Anderson (Rachel Ward), a sexy, tired, long-legged woman, and a friend of hers, Uncle Bud (Bruce Dern), a schemer who has been thinking about a way to get some big money for quite a while. All it involves is kidnapping a little boy from a rich family. What Fay and Uncle Bud don't know is that Collie is an ex-boxer who can be set off, and he has walked away from a mental institution.
This is a fine neo-noir based on a story by Jim Thompson, one of the best of the crime pulp writers of the Fifties. Collie is a noir hero moving inevitably toward tragedy. Fay Anderson is close to being a worn-out alcoholic in a big house, hard to trust and hard to believe. She answers questions with more questions. She's as fatalistic in her way as Collie is unpredictable. "I'm glad you came back, Collie," she says. "I wish you hadn't...afraid you wouldn't."
Uncle Bud is anything but fatalistic. He's an untrustworthy schemer who most likely will scam anyone to get what he wants. He can be funny in a sly way, fast with an explanation and a smile. Collie agrees to the plan because of Fay, and when complications arise there's always Uncle Bud to make things seem right. "He let me know that after thinking it over," Collie says, "we should go ahead with everything just as planned. Fay wouldn't be in the car to help with the kid but he was convinced I could handle it on my own. I could see from his point of view how the situation had actually improved. I'd never meant anything to him and now that I didn't mean anything to Fay either and since I'd practically told him how he could fake the whole thing and still cash in, you'd have to be blind not to see what was coming. I was due to get killed and Uncle Bud was due...or thought he was...to be a hero."
And at the end, when people die..."You and me, together forever," Fay says, "You really believed that, Collie. You really believed there could be a you and me." "I know it, Fay."
This is a well-made movie that moves along with the inevitability of great noirs. The three main actors do a fine job of getting across the exhaustion and bleak prospects of the characters they play. The movie made scarcely a ripple when it was released. It deserves far better,
Fay Anderson (Rachel Ward) in After Dark, My Sweet(Spoilers, for those who care.)
How about one more? Did I tell you my name? Well, why not? Fay Anderson. This is my favorite bar and this is my spot at the bar. What’d you say your name was? My God, is it so late? I haven’t seen you here before and I come here just about every evening. A salesman? Oh, God...no, wait, I was just trying to be funny. No, don’t tell me...I know I’m an old bag. You don’t think so? Well, lots of makeup and low lights can help a girl out. Thanks for the compliment. Cigarettes and desert sun don’t do much for a person, but I’ve never worried about that. I’ve still got a figure, I’ve got some money and I have a little ranch not far from here. It gets lonely, though, you know what I mean? So I drive over here. Sure, I'll have another, but then I’ve got to be going. Why? Well, I wouldn’t want people to talk. Although they do anyway about me. Maybe it would have been different if Collie had been smarter or if Uncle Bud had been dumber. Collie...Kevin Connor...you know, the crazy boxer. Never heard of him? I forgot, you’re just passing through. Everyone else in this godforsaken town sure heard about him a few months ago when the cops found him dead in the car. Bullet in his side. Then they found Uncle Bud dead. Where was I? I was in the back-seat holding the kid and trying to figure out a way to hold on to the ransom money. Just joking. No, they never did find all the cash. But I returned the kid and put the blame on Collie. Oh, hell, of course not. This is just a story. Anyway, that’s the way Collie wanted it. Did I love him? At the end I didn’t know what I thought. No, you’re right. Maybe I did. Maybe I loved Uncle Bud, too. Maybe I loved the idea of a lot of money. One more? Make mine with a lot of ice. Funny how you can outsmart yourself. I knew what Uncle Bud was up to, but so what? Then Collie came walking up that dirt road. Uncle Bud knew who he was right off...a perfect patsy. A boxer who killed a guy...was put in an institution and then just walked off. He’d taken too many punches...he was slow to figure things out. I’ll tell you something, Fred...is that your name?...Collie was a nice kid. About your age. You even look like him. After I have a few drinks a lot of guys do. Collie fooled Uncle Bud. He figured things out. It took him some time, but he did. And he fell for me. What could I do? Some things you just can’t stop. Maybe life is like death. Inevitable, huh? One more for the road? No thanks. My place isn’t far from here but I’ve still got to drive, and you’ve got to get to your room and call your wife to say night-night. You’ll drive me? I’ll tell you what, when we get to my place we’ll have a nightcap...and I’ll tell you a few more stories. You’re Fred, right? We’ll have some laughs...and I promise I’ll keep the lights low.