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“The San Francisco Roach is Generally German or Oriental in Derivation”

Pacific Heights» is a vastly underrated psychological thriller. Part of the problem likely is the wooden acting by Matthew Modine and the unconvincing ditzy by Melanie Griffith, though Michael Keaton plays creep quite well.1 Another part of the problem is that the film’s narrative arc reads like a landlord’s repudiation of tenants’ rights, and I can’t say any more without a spoiler tag.

The following scene (40:46 - 42:06) stars the inimitable Tracey Walter and contains not-so-subtle racist characterizations of Asians and Germans. Still, it manages to contribute at least 1 star» to the film. A couple more like this and it woulda been a cult contendah.

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1 I briefly met Griffith in the late 1980s when she threw a birthday party for Dennis Quaid. The highlight of that night working for Z-Valet was having a Citroen pull up. I went to greet the driver and found myself gazing directly into David Byrne’s wide open eyes. It was the only time I ever found myself starstruck.