The Woman Chaser stars Patrick Warburton in a performance that could be called uncanny. He's deadpan in his delivery of lines, as well as his demeanor, but that doesn't mean he's just completely flat-toned. As Richard Hudson, a car salesman who has a lot of money but is bored to death who decides to make a movie called "The Man Who Got Away", Warburton finds one of his richest characters to play through, and it's a performance that is quite funny, really dark, wretchedly tragic, and sometimes a little awkward (see how casual he is about commenting on his mother's beauty - including her breasts). It's he who the director, Robinson Devor, uses as his anchor for the film, and it was a creative and interesting choice. We usually see him in a supporting role or as a guy like Putty on Seinfeld. Here, he fits so well you'd swear he somehow beat out Glenn Ford and Robert Mitchum at the audition (it if were the 50's that is). It's a kind of weird- sometimes very weird- 'spoof' on film-noirs, particularly those set in the 1950s, and it also skewers the art of film-making. Hudson wants to make this film, and has a way of talking people into anything that gets him a 150 grand budget almost without even trying. We see him, narrating in a soulful and tragi-comic voice, how he goes from being at the top of his game as a sudden 'artist' to realizing the greed in others and betrayal in his own father/producer. Devor shoots the film as a black and white waking-nightmare (albeit shot in color, which really fooled me), and you get sucked into it much the same way you do The Man Who Wasn't There or even Ed Wood as contemporary filmed throwbacks to the mood its after and the subject matter. And it is funny, sometimes in ways that will just throw you completely off guard (one of my favorites is how he gets a particularly bad actress to play a scene by coaching her lines during a break - while having rough sex at the same time - and throwing her right into the scene immediately after, her face priceless), and other times in little moments that will hit more with film buffs than anyone else. There's even some Godardian deconstruction, however not quite as smart or biting, in how Richard keeps breaking the narrative of the film (par for the course in this story) and speaks to the audience while in front of a film camera spinning away on the reels. We don't sympathize with this character, but that's the point, and runs both as a great comment on its style of film and how film is made in general. One of the most curious things I should mention is the film within the film, the title 'The Man Who Got Away' also a very personal reference to its maker. We see Richard describe this scenario to us- directly to us, even as he's pitching it to his father- and we can see some of the things he's describing. We suspect even then it could never get made, not in the 1950s, or at least never released. What makes it so fascinating is how little Devor shows us of what was filmed for the movie, a really bitter screed on a truck driver who runs over a little girl and dies in his big getaway. I wanted to see more of it, but maybe that too is part of the construct of the Woman Chaser. We don't need to see the art Hudson is making - he's living through it, however poorly or an odd man-child, enthralled by TS Elliot to tears and strong enough to possibly kick someone's ass. It's a should-have-been sleeper that you can only find on limited-release VHS, but it's worth it.
The Woman Chaser
The Woman Chaser
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Set in 1950s Los Angeles, Richard Hudson (Warburton) is a shrewd car dealer who moves from San Francisco and sets up a used-car dealership. Tiring of this job, he turns the lot over to an assistant and starts writing his first movie,
November 11, 2021