'Miracle Mile' puts new life in old staple By Ron Cowan The Statesman Journal Miracle Mile recalls a movie staple of the 1950s and 1960s, the what-if nuclear film. This time the story is an offbeat-comedy drama about love, desperation and Review ch,aos- Ls An" geles-style. Written and FaSt faCtS directed by Steve DeJar-"Miracle natt, Miracle Mile," produced Mile benefits by John Daly and from a surreal Derek Gibson, musical score written and by Tangerine directed by Steve Dream and the DeJarnatt. Now casting of at Salem Centre Anthony Ed-Movieland, rated wards as the be- R for violence, profanity and adult situations. lievable but be-leagured hero. Edwards plays a visiting b musician who has a whirlwind romance with a waitress, Mare Winningham. They make a date to meet that night for dancing when she ends her shift at a coffee shop. Chance, a continuing factor in DeJarnatt's story, makes Edwards nearly four hours late. When he answers a ringing pay phone outside the coffee shop, he gets a surprising wrong number: a terrified man in a Midwest missile silo is trying to warn his father that nuclear war is about to ensue, with meltdown for Los Angeles just 75 minutes away. Is this a prank or the real thing? The horrified Edwards doesn't know nor do we as the movie follows real time the 75 minutes elapse as the story unfolds to the climax. Edwards tells his story to the assorted late night characters he encounters, and one happens to have ties to Washington, D.C. Something is up, she decides, and arranges for a helicopter to take the group to the airport and thence to a safe haven out of the country. Edwards, however, has to find Winningham he doesn't even have her phone number and runs into some predictably bizarre Los Angeles characters as the tension builds. DeJarnatt manages to make this, at turns, intense, darkly humorous and tender, although he falters by conjuring up the kind of stereotyped characters that always show up in these doomsday chronicles. DeJarnatt punches up the drama by staging a couple of spectacular sequences the explosion of a gas station and the destruction of a store by a runaway car but the emphasis is on characters, particularly on Edwards. Edwards, who can't be accused of being either handsome or charismatic, is sympathetic and believable as a kind of everyman in trouble. Winningham, who has a shorter role, is an appropriate romantic foil. The climax, as Los Angeles dissolves into chaos amid rumors and fear, has a sardonic twist that mixes both horror and humor.