Video Review: Murray Head "One Night In Bangkok"

A white square appears and then goes to the right of the screen. Then, it alternates between white and black squares, forming a chess board. The white squares break apart, with one white square off to the side.

The white square dissolves into Florence’s eye. Florence, with a flower in her hair, turns away from the door.

In a cloud of sienna smoke, Freddie (Murray Head) opens the door and walks along the boat. He enters a house and sits in the table in the foyer. He thinks of chess, a game he used to love to play. He and Florence begin to play a game of chess.

The villagers in Thailand fold their hands, leading to a goddess. Several people appear in different parts of the chess board. Freddie bursts through a curtain of a massage parlor, protesting his dislike of it. He crosses his arms across his chest as an exotic dancer performs for him. He stops to watch two men kickbox.

The villagers work on their fields and chow down on rice.

Dancers perform on the chess board while Freddie sings on a screen behind it. Then, the dancers perform a routine by themselves on the chess board. Freddie rises up and then walks towards the center.

Florence stomps her piece onto the board.

Rating: 2.5/5

Freddie (Murray Head), by Act 2 of the musical “Chess,” has retired from playing chess and became a commentator in Thailand. His girlfriend (Florence) left him for his rival (Anatoly). He’s consumed by his love of the chess, a game he misses.

He observes a kickboxing match and the massage parlors, where he gets propositioned but is otherwise unimpressed with the country. There isn’t any need for him to make a connection to anyone there. He isn’t intending to stay. Thailand is temporary until he can return home and play chess again.

Out of context of the musical, Murray Head is simply an ugly American, looking down upon the country he’s visiting. He seeks out the Bangkok entertainment of the red-light district and then complains. Nonetheless, all he has is his stereotypes. He only ventures out to what he’s heard and doesn’t really think he needs to learn anything.

Freddie is a character who needs explanation. Otherwise, he’s an arrogant guy who thinks  he’s better based on nationality alone. Unfortunately, the song is placed for him after a difficult year. He’s upset that he’s living in some country other than the United States and is now a spectator in a game he loves.

Director: David G. Hiller Year: 1985


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