In this action thriller Geena Davis has top-billing as a government-trained assassin who has been suffering from amnesia for the past eight years. An operation gone drastically wrong gave her the injuries that left her completely unaware of who she was. Using the name "Samantha Caine," she started a new life as a simply small town school teacher and mother of the child she was two months pregnant with when she lost her memory.
An automobile accident begins to shake loose some of this Davis's memories of her former life, as well some of the deadly skills she acquired from U.S. government training. At the same time, a "low rent" private detective named Mitch Henessey (2nd-billed star Samuel L. Jackson) uncovers a small suitcase that had belonged to Davis's character before her memory loss. Henessey is the latest in a long string of private detectives hired by Davis's character to find some clues about her past.
When an assassin tries to kill "Samantha Caine" (after seeing her on a television news broadcast of her town's Christmas parade), she decides to team up with Henessey to contact the people mentioned in the postcards and letters they find in her old suitcase. Before long she learns about her past, including her name: Charlene Elizabeth Baltimore (or "Charly Baltimore," for short). She soon realizes that the dozens of heavily armed men trying to kill her are working for the secret government agency she used to belong to.
34 minutes into the movie "Samantha" and Henessey have checked into adjoining rooms at a motel while en route to a train station where they plan to meet her old boss (played by Brian Cox), the man who trained her. In her hotel room, "Samantha" is practicing signing her real name over and over again. She swears, possibly out of frustration at not yet remembering more about her past, despite efforts to prod her memory. She then swears out out of frustration at having to wait many more hours before meeting her old boss.
The door between their rooms is open, and Henessey (Samuel L. Jackson) overhears "Samantha" swearing. He finds such language uncharacteristic of the clean-living, polite elementary school teacher he originally came to know her as. He asks her about it, and she jokingly asks if he is a Mormon. This reveals her perception of Latter-day Saints as people who do not swear.
Henessey (Samuel L. Jackson) then makes a further joke, saying that yes, he is a Mormon. He sarcastically says that this is the reason he is smoking and drinking. Here he reveals his understanding that Latter-day Saints do not smoke or drink alcohol. The meaning behind his joke is that of course he is not actually a Latter-day Saint, and he knows she already knows that because she has seen him smoke and drink.
Note that in the actual script, "Samantha" does ask Henessey if he is a Mormon, but when Henessey answers he does not say, "Yes, I am a Mormon." This is what Samuel L. Jackson says in the final version of the film. Apparently he modified his line slightly. Thus, the film uses the word "Mormon" in two separate lines. One line is a humorous remark about the fact that Latter-day Saints do not swear. The other line is a humorous remark about the Latter-day Saint health code, the Word of Wisdom.
There are a number of ways that director Renny Harlin could have become personally familiar with Latter-day Saints who do not swear, smoke or drink. The film Harlin directed before "The Long Kiss Goodnight" was "Cutthroat Islan," which starred non-churchgoing Mormon actor Matthew Modine in the male lead role, alongside Geena Davis in the lead role. Also, the model maker for "The Long Kiss Goodnight" was Clark Schaffer, a Latter-day Saint who later was the model maker for "The Book of Mormon Movie, Vol. 1: The Journey." Bro. Schaffer had worked with Harlin before, on movies such as "Cliffhanger" and "Die Hard 2."
But it is likely that the writer of these references was not Harlin, but was actually screenwriter Shane Black. Although this section of dialogue was changed significantly by the time the film was finished, the key line in which Samantha asks Henessey if he is a Mormon can be found in the Black's script.
Actual excerpt from script for "The Long Kiss Goodnight," written by Shane Black (Revised Draft dated February 24, 1995)
(Source URL: www.weeklyscript.com/Long%20Kiss%20Goodnight,%20The.txt):
SAMANTHA What's this? What the hell is this...? We don't have time for this, of all the c---s---ing bullsh-- -- HENESSEY Whoa. Ms. Class, drive a little truck on the side, do you? SAMANTHA What are you, a Mormon? HENESSEY No, ma'am, it's just that... well, when we met you're all, "Oh, fooey, I burned the darn cupcakes." Now, you go into a bar, ten minutes later sailors come running out, they can't take it.