|Index||3 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was genuinely pleased to see that Rex Pickett and Barbara Schock have
found success and Oscars in recent years with, respectively, the
novel-turned-movie "Sideways" and the live-action short film "My Mother
Dreams The Satan's Disciples In New York," because I was a bit worried
for their future back when saw their first film, "From Hollywood To
Deadwood" (FHTD) back in 1989. I had originally rented it (in VHS,
which shows how long ago this was) because The Phantom of the Movies
had recommended it in The New York Daily News. I wanted to like the
flick, honest I did, but either the Phantom's taste was on vacation
that day or he had a ghostwriter on duty. I'm afraid I found FHTD to be
more of a film bore than a film noir.
Two down-and-out detectives (are there any other kind in such films? :-)), one an unsuccessful mystery writer (Scott Paulin) and the other an unsuccessful actor (Jim Haynie, dressing and acting so much like Carl Kolchak on THE NIGHT STALKER that at the time, I had the feeling director Pickett had really wanted Darren McGavin in the role), are hired by a film company to find the actress (Schock, who had the requisite husky noir babe voice without the femme fatale magnetism. But at least she had a cool last name! :-)) who walked out on their big-screen production. If it was anything like FHTD, I don't blame her. Heck, the characters' names were more exciting than anything they got to do on screen: Raymond Savage (Paulin), Lana Dark (Schock). I hate to say it, but NOTHING HAPPENS in this movie! Nothing, nada, zilch! The plot had as much point and color as a cue ball. I never once got the feeling that any of the bland characters were in any danger. Even when guns and blood were finally drawn, I'm afraid I felt no sense of urgency or excitement, just a vague feeling that I'd seen it all done better elsewhere. The ad copy for the video I'd rented claimed that Lana left "a trail of dead bodies." Hardly! One is mentioned in a Variety obituary, one is represented only by a splotch of movie blood on a movie poster (to be fair, maybe the low budget was to blame), and the only corpse on screen seems livelier in death than during her previous scenes -- and none of them were done in by Lana anyway. Maybe the package copy was referring to the luckless viewers who watched FHTD and were bored to death. Anyway, I'm glad those involved went on to better things.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The thing I love about Netflix and other purveyors of streaming movies
is that you can see some independent outings that might not even ever
have made it to your video rental store, when those things existed;
well, this would have been Redbox-worthy. One of the things I don't
like about Netflix is that I have to scroll through the descriptions of
tons of basically forgotten movies, each of whose description pretty
much sums up why it has been forgotten. So often the cover art, the
stars, the first few lines of a synopsis seem tempting ... until you
read that the story devolves into something to do with vampires and
other lackluster devices.
But some of these little sort of homemade movies seem to have an actual plot grounded somewhere in reality; Shakespeare would have been happy with this one because it's pretty nuts-and-bolts, with emotional twists and a certain amount of violence. Plus, it made sense, for the most part. I was not sure that a detective would have fallen into obsession so readily as did one of our heroes, but it was pretty well established that that was a pattern of his, and he did seem the type who liked to play white knight. But the particular deception was interesting once unraveled. Yes, I did keep thinking throughout the movie that Jim Haynie was the spitting image of William Holden, and that that was maybe why he had never become a household name; although I read in another review that the resemblance was to Darren McGavin. Maybe that's who I was thinking of. Otherwise, Haynie was charming, and Scott Paulin dashing. Somehow I have a feeling they were actively involved in producing the movie as a showcase for their talents that deserved to have gone farther than they did ... both have apparently been well regarded character actors for years who have worked on other of the same projects. That's not unusual in Hollywood, to see the same people popping up together almost like repertory theater. I will warn you that the production values are not up to Hollywood blockbuster standards but what do you want from an independent like this? In a way, the missteps add to its charm. I could have handled another crime solved by the duo.
As Burt Bacharach might have written, what the world needs now is another detective spoof. But hey, this only claims to be entertainment. An odd couple of Californian private investigators get a bit desperate for cash; luckily, a small Hollywood film company (where do these writers get such varied inspiration?) hires them to track down the leading lady who's legged it mid-shoot. With $25,000 riding on it, the gumshoes are only too keen to find the woman, and the usual chaos ensues.
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