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V.I. Warshawski is a 1991 film directed by Jeff Kanew. It was intended to be a film franchise for star Kathleen Turner, but never happened after the film was a critical and commercial failure. The film was based on a series of books by Sara Paretsky. Screenwriters Edward Taylor, David Aaron Cohen, and Nick Thiel adapted only one of Sara Paretsky's novels, Deadlock, for the script to the film. This script took at least one liberty with the story: whereas Paretsky had written the original novel as a serious mystery, Taylor, Cohen, and Thiel took an almost comedic approach.


Victoria "V.I" Warshawski is a Chicago based private detective who agrees to babysit for her new boyfriend; then he is murdered. Being the detective type, she makes the murder her next case. In doing so she befriends the victim's daughter, Kat, and together they set out to crack the case.


  • Kathleen Turner - V.I. Warshawski
  • Jay O. Sanders - Murray Ryerson
  • Charles Durning - Det. Lt. Bobby Mallory
  • Angela Goethals - Kat Grafalk, Bernard's Daughter
  • Nancy Paul - Paige Wilson Grafalk
  • Stephen Meadows - Bernard 'Boom-Boom' Grafalk
  • Stephen Root - Mickey
  • Wayne Knight - Smeissen

Critical reception

Janet Maslin of The New York Times had mixed thoughts about the film but commended the acting:

It's too bad that V.I. Warshawski is itself a lot less glamorous than Ms. Turner's performance, since the character could easily be the centerpiece of a more appealing film.... V.I. Warshawski has a breezy style and a serviceable, even surprising detective plot. And it has Ms. Turner, who makes the most of V. I. Warshawski's sardonic humor.

Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3 out of 4 stars and also praised Turner's performance:

Kathleen Turner fits the character more closely than I would have imagined. Her laugh seems aged by whiskey, her smile is brave in the face of trouble, she kisses guys as if she'll never see them again, and she's usually right.

Turner's performance as the title character was the one detail Sara Paretsky, who had created the character and written the film's source novel, Deadlock, found fit to praise, criticizing the majority of the other elements.

Box office

The movie debuted poorly at the box office.

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