Arthur Brown is covertly aiming his Popeil Pocket Parabolic microphone at people on the street. And by covertly, I mean dressed in leather, reclining like Rose being sketched by Jack in Titanic, his motorcycle parked beside him apparently having been driven up onto the walkway.
He hears an old man complaining about being an old man, and he hears a young woman with a black eye talking on the phone about having an affair. Quite reasonably, he follows the woman. The titular hitchhiker tells us, “Arthur Bradley Brown steals the words of others and uses them like they were his own” — just like Amy Schumer.
Arthur slowrides, following the woman as she walks to the studio of her lover. He leaves his bike parked perpendicular to the curb, and sneaks up the fire escape. He finds her window, and watches her. So in the first three minutes, he is eaves-dropping, endangering pedestrians, holding up traffic, stalking, blocking the road, trespassing, and Peeping Tomming. Ladies and gentleman, our protagonist.
Arthur had wisely called before midnight to get the free suction cup attachment for the microphone, which he sticks to her window. Turns out the woman, Diane, is having the affair with another woman, Carla Magnuson. She makes excuses for her husband and the black eye he gave her.
That night, Arthur goes to Diane’s house and snoops outside her window for a while. She assures her husband she was just in the city window-shopping, and that there is no one else. They start making out, which is fine, but I think this scene could have been accomplished without seeing Michael Madsen’s butt.
Arthur is a writer. He transcribes the scenes he has witnessed into a screenplay and takes it to his agent. He had been a hot new talent at one time, but the drugs derailed him. His agent is glad to see he is better than ever. He has a few suggestions, though. Apparently, his agent also represents Stephen King — his editing advice is: don’t cut anything, more more more! He wants to add a scene — inexplicably not a further exploration of the lesbian affair — but of the husband finding out.
At home, stuck for a 3rd Act, Arthur calls Diane’s house to instigate trouble. Her husband John answers, and Arthur says he is her boyfriend. John says, “I’m her husband, you son of a bitch.” The next day, the scamp sends flowers to Diane with a card that says, “To my best girlfriend.” She wisely tells the delivery boy to take them away before she gets another shiner.
Diane storms into Carla’s gallery and accuses her of making the call and sending the flowers. The flowers, I get, but why does she think Carla made the call. Wouldn’t her husband have said a man called, or your boyfriend called? Arthur is eavesdropping again, this time with a camera. He takes a picture of Carla giving Diane a back-rub next to a gigantic nude photo of her. Because, if you’re having an affair with the wife of an abusive psychopath, ya really want to prop the super-sized evidence up in front of a window that doesn’t even have curtains.
Arthur goes to Diane’s house, and this time breaks in. He installs a bug on her phone and leaves a picture of Diane’s nude photo in their living room. Finding this, her husband, predictably, starts slapping her around. Arthur actually feels a little remorse when he overhears this.
The husband — Michael Madsen, playing his usual role of a muscle-head who is not particularly muscular — is a cop. He detects a signature on the nude in the photo. In a nice bit of exposition, he calls a buddy on the force to get a number for a photographer named Magnuson. This allows Arthur to overhear the address. In the bedroom, Diane has picked up the extension, so she also knows where her husband is heading.
All three take off separately for Carla’s studio like the opening of It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. The husband wants to kill “the guy”, Diane wants to warn her lover, and Arthur is thinking if he saves Carla’s life she will so grateful they will have a three-way. Arthur gets there first and tries to warn Carla that John is on the way over with a gun. Diane arrives next.
Diane: John’s coming.
Carla: That’s what he said.
Hee-hee. Both women are baffled who Arthur is and why he is there. John finally arrives and Carla breaks a perfectly good whiskey bottle over his head. When the cops show up, they inexplicably shoot Arthur who is just standing there with his hands up.
This one grew on me as I thought more about it. The story could hardly be simpler. Maybe the lesbian love affair was a shocker in 1985, but it can’t support a whole story in 2017; at least not without significant nudity. The direction called attention to itself a couple of times, but that’s OK. Some of the shots such as through the fire escape (pictured above) and Arthur’s motorcycle riding were stylishly designed. Performances were competent.
Maybe it is grading on a curve, but an OK episode.