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Film review: Shining Through

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 4 1992 12:00 a.m. MST

"Shining Through" is riddled with old Hollywood cliches — more so, in fact, than any big-budget blockbuster in recent memory.

Stoic Michael Douglas gets top billing, but earnest, yet still giggly Melanie Griffith has the lead as a half-Jewish, uneducated but very bright woman in 1940 New York who goes to work as a secretary for a lawyer (Douglas), then begins to suspect he's a spy. Meanwhile, they get romantic, of course.

It isn't long before she finds her suspicions confirmed — Douglas is a spy! — and when America enters the war, Griffith volunteers to become a behind-enemy-lines spy herself.

After learning some quickie survival skills (we're told) she's in Berlin, trying to get a job as a domestic in a Nazi leader's home so she can photograph important papers.

That the plot is as silly as they come doesn't stop the cast from playing it completely straight. And every time you think it can't get any dumber, along comes something that proves you wrong. For example, when Griffith finds a secret door, behind which there must be important Nazi papers, she finds it has a huge padlock on it. So, naturally, she reaches up to the ledge above the door — and voila! The key is there!

A running gag here has Griffith saying from time to time that she's gotten an idea from some old WWII movie. In fact, "Shining Through" plays so much like one of those old movies that it's apparent writer-director David Seltzer ("Punchline") has seen way too many of them himself.

"Shining Through" is rated R for violence, a nude sex scene and profanity.

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