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Jesse Stone: Night Passage
Tom Selleck, Stephanie March, Stephen Baldwin
Directed by Robert Harmon
Made for TV 2006
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2007
87 minutes

Jesse Stone Night Passage, now on DVD, is the second of the made for TV movie adaptations of Robert B. Parker‘s Jesse Stone series, but chronologically the first in the series. This is when Stone leaves L.A. for Paradise, Massachusetts. Directed by Robert Harmon, Jesse Stone: Night Passage is quite faithful to the book not only in terms of story but also in terms of mood and character. Many were surprised when Tom Selleck was chosen to play Parker’s Jesse Stone character but few had anything bad to say after seeing him in the first TV movie in the series, Stone Cold. Night Passage only confirms first impressions: this is a really good mystery series.

Jesse Stone Night Passage opens with L.A. cop Jesse Stone driving to Paradise, Massachusetts on his way to what may or may not be a new job and a new life. Meanwhile, the chief of the Paradise PD is retiring and getting his golden parachute in a brown paper envelope from one of the people on the town council, Saul Rubinek. There is something going on in town and the Saul Rubinek character is convinced he is getting a new chief of police he can control.

One of the reasons the Jesse Stone DVDs are such good thrillers is director Robert Harmon. This guy knows how to make a moody movie and this is the exact kind of movie you expect out of this Robert B. Parker mystery series. He does have a thing for lighting but here it serves the movie instead of being just a director showing off. The musical score is top notch too.

Jesse Stone Night Passage is also a well-written mystery DVD. Yes, it is faithful to the Parker series but there are also some nice, subtle touches like the change of command scene from Caine Mutiny playing in the background while Stone is having a drink in his hotel room. The story begins with Stone getting the Paradise PD job even if he would not have given it to himself. This raises his suspicions. He then handles his first case, domestic abuse, by kicking the wayward husband, Joe Genest, played by Stephen Baldwin, in the gonads. Things get really serious when the former chief of police gets run off a cliff by the Baldwin character and you find out the Baldwin and Rubinek characters are involved in some kind of scheme. Look for Stephanie March, Alexandra Cabot on Law and Order, as Rubinek’s wife.

Granted, this particular movie may not be the best in the series. This is because it is based on the first novel in Parker’s series and he was feeling out and establishing his character a bit, something that is reflected in the TV movie. In fact Stone uses Spencer’s trick of setting a bee in the bad guy’s bonnet. But any Jesse Stone DVD or made for TV suspense is far superior to most of what else is out there. More importantly is fans of the series will not be disappointed. Selleck is great as Stone, the supporting cast solid, the movie is interesting and extremely well made.

Stone Cold  Death In Paradise  Night Passage