Guilty PLEASURES: Holly West

Despite the “Guilty Pleasures” theme, I actually make no apologies for my taste in movies. This goes double for my love of a little gem released in 1992 called SHINING THROUGH.

SHINING THROUGH is a period flick featuring Melanie Griffith as a feisty, half-Jewish, U.S. war department secretary who convinces her superiors to let her go to Berlin to spy on the Nazis.

In the right hands, SHINING THROUGH, which also stars Michael Douglas and Liam Neeson, might’ve been more than just a cheesy film relegated to the ranks of “Guilty Pleasure.” Sure, it’s no SHINDLER’S LIST (though Neeson does play a high-ranking member of the Third Reich), but the story is more or less solid and with a few tweaks here and there, it could’ve been, shall we say, a contender.

In Melanie Griffith’s incapable hands, however, it becomes deliciously melodramatic and even ridiculous. You see, Melanie is one of those actors who delivers every line the same way: stilted and somewhat monotone, as though she is reading off cue cards. Other examples of actors who employ this acting technique include Wynona Ryder, Keanu Reeves, and increasingly, Nicholas Cage.

Not that I’m dissing Melanie Griffith, mind you. After all, she is married to Anthony Banderas, and in my book, that counts for something. But if you buy her as an American WWII war heroine who uses her talent for speaking German ‘like a Berlin butcher’s wife’ and a little chutzpa to put one over on the Nazis, I have some swampland in Florida you might also be interested in.

With unforgettable lines like “Eyes down, say nothing, and try not to look like a spy” (uttered by none other than the legendary John Gielgud), and “What’s a war for if not to hold on to what we love,” perhaps Melanie isn’t entirely to blame for my decision to make SHINING THROUGH my “Guilty Pleasure.” Frankly, I’m giving Michael Douglas a pass because of his recent health problems. But really, I can’t think of any other actress (except, perhaps, Wynona Ryder) who could have been less convincing in this role. And that, my friends, is perfect “Guilty Pleasures” casting.


HOLLY WEST is a pre-published author currently finishing up her first novel; a historical mystery entitled DIARY OF BEDLAM. When not frolicking about in 17th century London, she enjoys reading, knitting, skiing, and petting dogs. She lives in sunny Southern California with her husband, Mick West, and two dogs, Stuart and Stella. You can read about more of her guilty pleasures, movies and otherwise, at