Clean Slate (1994 film)

Clean Slate

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mick Jackson
Produced by Gary Daigler
Lili Fini Zanuck
Richard D. Zanuck
Written by Robert King
Starring Dana Carvey
Michael Gambon
Valeria Golino
Michael Murphy
James Earl Jones
Olivia d'Abo
Kevin Pollak
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography Andrew Dunn
Editing by Priscilla Nedd-Friendly
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s) May 6, 1994
Running time 107 min.
Country United States
Language English
Box office $7,355,425[1]

Clean Slate is a 1994 American comedy film, directed by Mick Jackson. The film stars Dana Carvey as a private investigator who is the key witness in a murder case. After suffering a head injury however, he has developed a rare form of amnesia that causes him to forget anything that's happened to him the previous day. This makes it hard for him to know who to trust, or if he even knows them at all. Valeria Golino, Michael Gambon, James Earl Jones, and Kevin Pollak co-star.



Maurice Pogue (Carvey) has Anterograde amnesia, a form of amnesia that prevents him from remembering anything that happened to him the day before. He realizes from a recording he made for himself the previous night (Sunday) – to keep himself in the know – that he's a private investigator in Los Angeles, and acquired the condition after being injured during a case. Pogue tells himself not to reveal his condition to anyone, as he's the key witness in the case against the man responsible for his amnesia. Appearing on the recording is a strange woman, Sarah Novak (Golino), who informs him she has been living under the alias Beth Holly in San Francisco, and she has come to L.A. because she is being blackmailed. The police then come to Pogue's office, and take him to what turns out to be his birthday party. He tells his friend Dolby (Jones) that he's seen Sarah, and learns from Dolby that Sarah is dead. While at the party, Pogue also meets Anthony Doover (Michael Murphy), his doctor – the only person who knows of Pogue's condition.

Two henchmen take him from the party to meet Philip Cornell (Gambon), the man Pogue is to testify against. Cornell offers Pogue a large sum of money to deny witnessing Cornell's involvement in the crime. On re-examining his files at the office, Pogue learns that Sarah was once Cornell's lover, who decided to testify against Cornell lest he killed her because of her knowledge of his illegal activities. Sarah hired Pogue to protect her but was killed by a car bomb, the same bomb that caused his amnesia. That night, Pogue meets Sarah at a fashion show she's modeling in. She tells him the girl that was killed in the explosion was a double, and that someone's threatening to tell Cornell she's still alive. Sarah also tells Pogue about a valuable coin Cornell stole from the L.A. County Museum, which she in turn stole from him. Sarah tells Pogue that she gave him the coin the morning before the explosion; Pogue cannot remember. The only clue the two have about the coin's location is one word Pogue said when Sarah gave it to him, "Baby."

The next morning, Pogue has forgotten everything again. Cornell shows up to his office to get Pogue's sworn statement but Pogue, mistaking Cornell for his landlord, gives him a check for rent. Pogue tries throughout the day to figure out where the coin is but doesn't find any answers. Later on he meets with Sarah; she stays at his place for the night and they make love. Pogue wakes up the following day remembering everything from the day before. Through learning his dog is Baby, he recalls that he hid the coin in its collar. He takes Sarah to a payphone to call the people who are blackmailing her, Pogue notices that her handwriting is not the same as on the note the coin was wrapped in. Thus realizing she cannot really be Sarah Novak, he switches the coin without her knowledge. He then follows her and finds that Doover and her set up the scam to get the coin. When Doover says they'll have to start all over again after they failed to get the coin, the woman posing as Sarah refused to go through with it again. That night, while sitting in Pogue's car outside his office, the woman reveals into one of Pogue's recorders that she's really Beth Holly, whom Doover had hired because of her resemblance to Novak. Cornell's men then kidnap Beth when they see her in the car.

Thursday morning, Cornell, who's figured out that Pogue has the coin, abducts Pogue and takes him to his home, where he attempts to torture him to give up the coin. Pogue and Holly escape, and rush to Cornell's trial. During the trial, Pogue falls back in his chair and hits his head, then suddenly regains his memory. He tells Beth that he put the coin in a parking meter and she speeds off to get it. Pogue then gives his testimony against Cornell, which prompts Cornell to change his plea in the case. Pogue finds Sarah back at his apartment and the story ends when the two kiss and go inside.



Clean Slate debuted in 1,457 theatres across the United States on May 6, 1994. The film grossed $3,136,130 its opening weekend, ranking number four at the box office. In its second week, though released in 17 more theatres, it was only able to make $1,498,602, more than a 50% drop in gross income.[2] The film eventually grossed a total $7,355,425 domestic.[1]

The film was first released to video in Argentina, the United Kingdom, and the United States in March 1995.[3][4] It was eventually released in the DVD format on October 8, 2002.[5]


At Allmovie, the film received a 1.5 out of 5 star rating.[6] The film aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 19% approval rating (based on 16 reviews), deeming the picture certifiably "rotten."[7] Scott Renshaw stated "In the 24 hours since I saw Clean State, bits and pieces have popped into my head constantly, prompting spontaneous laughter, and it just keeps growing on me."[8] However, David Nusair of Apollo Guide had a differing opinion: "’re virtually guaranteed to have forgotten it by the following morning."[9]

See also


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