Written Reviews

The Man with One Red Shoe (1985)

20th Century Fox released The Man with One Red Shoe on July 19, 1985. Stan Dragoti directed the film starring Tom Hanks, Lori Singer, and Dabney Coleman.

This film is a remake of the 1972 French film The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe which I have not seen, but apparently is more well liked, and even has its own sequel titled The Return of the Tall Blond Man. This film is basically a Spy vs Spy tale with an ordinary man unfortunately caught in the middle of these government employee’s evil schemes—kind of like Alfred Hitchcock, but not as charming.

‘The Man with One Red Shoe’ Plot Synopsis

Dabney Coleman is Burton Cooper, a deputy director at the CIA. While he wants to be the head honcho, a man named Ross is currently in that position. While Ross has taught Cooper everything he knows, Cooper still wants him out of the way. Ross finds himself in hot water with the US Senate thanks to Cooper getting one of his men arrested for drug trafficking. The Senate gives Ross 48 hours to explain himself, and Ross uses that time to get even with Cooper.

Knowing that Cooper has bugged his house, Ross tells his subordinate named Brown that someone is arriving at the airport who will clear his name. Out of earshot of the bugs, Ross tells Brown to pick anyone as the decoy. Brown goes to the airport where he picks a man with one red shoe named Richard Drew. This oblivious concert violinist sends Cooper and his team on a wild goose chase, and hilarity ensues; not too sure how this clears Ross’ name with the Senate, but that’s the general plot.

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This film was a box office bomb. It made only $8.6M on a budget of $16M. Stan Dragoti who made the Dracula spoof Love at First Bite, and the John Hughes comedy Mr. Mom directed this one. However, he’d only make two more films after this. While the directing is fine, his script is unfocused, and makes it little sense. I enjoyed this as a kid, but as an adult, the film leaves me wondering how Ross was going to clear his name. This storyline with Cooper and Drew just doesn’t add up. What is the point of this film? Spoiler Alert: There isn’t one.


Tom Hanks is the main star of the film, and some people might not remember that he made a lot of bad and mediocre films before he became America’s sweetheart in 1994’s Forrest Gump. This is one of them. In fact, at the time I first saw this, I still considered him just a TV star even though this is 3 years after Bosom Buddies, and a year after Bachelor Party and Splash. I couldn’t see Bachelor Party back in the day because there was a tad bit of nudity in it. For Tom’s part, his acting was great given the absurdity of his situation—far from Oscar worthy though.

Dabney Colman is the main bad guy, Burton Cooper. He does what Dabney does best…he’s a selfish prick out for himself. He’s every bit as good at that type of role as William Atherton, Paul Gleason, and Jeffrey Jones, but he’s my favorite prick of the group because he’s the first one I saw when I watched 1980’s 9 to 5 half a million times on the HBO Loop. While he’s doing his usual shtick that I’d come to love in this film, it’s not terribly inspired work here either, but once again, the script doesn’t ask him to do a lot. Have I mentioned the script is weak?

However, Dabney has one of my most quoted film quotes I repeat to this day. At one point, he orders the government’s computer that’s in charge of our entire missile system to decode Richard’s musical performance. He wants it to listen to Richard’s violin to look for any encoded messages in the notes he’s playing. Maddy, his super-sexy agent objects because the computer protects America from Soviet attacks. He smugly replies to her objection, “Honey, will you please – what are the odds of the Russians attacking on a Thursday night?” To this day, I still wonder what the odds are.

Speaking of Maddy, Lori Singer plays her. I do not really know her from anything other than playing Ariel in 1984’s Footloose. I believe she actually plays the cello, so maybe that was an in for her in this film, but while she’s a beautiful woman, her performance doesn’t do a whole lot for me…it’s pretty flat. I think she does have good chemistry with Tom and Dabney, but she falls in love with Richard too easy for being this cold-hearted, career-driven spy.

Where’s our Carrie Fisher fans? She plays Paula in this one. She’s an expert flautist in the same orchestra as Richard who plays a mean flute solo. While she’s looking to make it a duet with Richard, Paula is married to Morris (Jim Belushi), who is Richard’s best friend, and also a drummer in the aforementioned orchestra. That’s a problem.

This little a one-sided affair with Richard adds some additional comic turmoil, but it also gives fans of Carrie’s Princess Leia’s slave outfit one more movie thrill. There’s a scene where she seduces Richard, and we learn that Morris loves to play Tarzan and Jane (complete with the yell) in the bedroom. Paula goes to Richard’s home at one point to play it with Richard too.

When she takes off her dress, she reveals a very skimpy cheetah bikini underneath that Jabba and the Princess Leia fanboys would love. At least I think it’s a bikini. It might be lingerie. It’s hard to tell. In fact, here’s some homework for any readers with a bit of free time and a copy of this film. Fast forward to that section, look closely, and decide for yourself. If you miss it on the first watch, feel free to rewind it again until you think you know. I’ll wait.

Final Thoughts

This film is terribly flawed and not that good. Tom Hanks is even on record as saying so. It’s silly. The plot makes little sense, and I still have no idea how Ross expects to come out on top with the Senate from all this. However, nostalgia is one hell of a drug, and thanks to the HBO Loop, this one is burned into my mind until dementia takes it away from me. While I’m giving it 2 stars, it’s on my list of Guilty Pleasures, and I will never tire of watching it.

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20th Century Fox released The Man with One Red Shoe on July 19, 1985. Stan Dragoti directed the film starring Tom Hanks, Lori Singer, and Dabney Coleman.

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