Distributed by: Gaumont
Released: April 1984
I’ve never had the patience to be a really good, or even halfway decent, chess player. Now I come to find out I really don’t have the patience to watch a movie about chess players. But I’ve committed to doing my best to watch every Best Foreign Film ever awarded by the Academy, and Dangerous Moves, Switzerland’s 1984 BFF film, wasn’t going to watch itself. So I sucked down a pot of coffee and popped the DVD in and . . . watched at least a quarter of the film before committing to doing the same the next day. Turns out, this is the most appropriate way to watch this film, and the most pragmatic. More on that later.
|Jan-Michael Vincent wanna be Pavius|
The chess championship is a best of seven, like the NBA finals or the World Series, right? You would think that going into Match 1, these guys would come out concentrating on the fundamentals, like don’t get your king taken, or try not to lose too many guys, that sort of thing. But these rough-and-tumble competitors are above all that, especially Pavius. His ploy is to show up late to rattle his opponent, which it most certainly does. And why wouldn’t it? The first rule of chess is to show up on time, or your opponent might get mad. Classic sports one-upsmanship.
|Avika, The old Russian Master|
I am careful to not give away any plot points, like who wins what games, or which player shockingly uses the Sicilian Defense and which one goes the more traditional King’s Gambit route. But there’s little chance of me giving away the ending, because I very well may have been asleep for it.
|I'm more of a checkers guy, myself|
The Title: The French title is La diagonale du fou, or "The Fool’s Diagonal." I guess they changed it to Dangerous Moves in order to trick Americans into thinking it was an interesting movie.
The Culture: The Cold War, which lasted from 1945 to 1990, included a number of events that had the world on the edge of their collective seat: The Vietnam and Korean Wars, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Berlin airlift, all fraught with danger. A chess match, I would say, does nothing to reflect that time.
Agenda danger: Heck, I would have liked a little communist or capitalist propaganda to liven things up.
Best Picture that year: Amadeus. The story of Mozart. Movie-goers must have been really patient that year.
Rating: What would really interest me is a movie about a Checkers champ and his protégé. Maybe even Parcheesi would be more exciting. But during the Cold War, of course.