One False Move (1992)

“Nothing is as dangerous as the past.” This engaging drama/thriller involves three criminals who make their way from Los Angeles to Arkansas after a drug deal goes sour. Billy Bob Thornton plays a psychotic redneck killer named “Ray Malcolm” and his third wife, actress Cynda Williams, portrays his frazzled girlfriend “Fantasia.” The gang also includes the equally ruthless Lenny “Pluto” Franklin (Michael Beach). However, the most interesting character is Dale “Hurricane” Dixon (Bill Paxton), a small-town Arkansas sheriff who dreams of one day hitting the big time as a detective in Los Angeles. He gets his opportunity by assisting two tough LA cops who are staking out the town in hopes that the drug dealers will make an appearance. Although he is never taken seriously by his peers, Hurricane eventually seeks a modicum of redemption by the closing reel (but at a hell of a cost!). A film that starts out as a crime thriller but quickly evolves into an intricate drama about complex personalities (and underlying racial tensions), One False Move was directed by Carl Franklin and cowritten by Billy Bob Thornton and his friend, Tom Epperson. Thornton, in the character of Hurricane, reportedly projected his own fears of rejection and feelings of unworthiness during his early stint as a “hillbilly” trying to find acting work in Los Angeles. Originally intended as a straight-to-video feature, One False Move received strong word-of-mouth and was eventually distributed to movie theaters (critic Gene Siskel even named it as his favorite film of 1992).

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