Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Karma Noir: 1 in the Gun

A drifter, a pre-nup and a Van Gogh are a dangerous combination, at least for one side of the potential love triangle. Appropriately, a jazz singer will help set the right mood. Obviously, there will also be a firearm of some sort in Rolfe Kanefsky’s 1 in the Gun (trailer here), available today on DVD.

It was no accident when down-and-out artist Mickey Lewis crashed his shopping cart into that of discontented trophy wife Katrina Webb. Before you can say Double Indemnity, she has recruited him to be her live-in house painter. Her jealous brute of a husband reluctantly agrees to the proposal, as long as no one touches his poorly guarded wife and Van Gogh while he is away on business. At least he will get the house painted for free out of the deal.

Naturally, Lewis is not who he represents himself to be, which is fair enough considering Webb is also playing him. Unfortunately, she is not inclined to play nice with Lewis when he attempts to appropriate her scheme. When negotiations fall through, Lewis takes it on the lam, but quickly detours into the eerie realm of the Lynchian where the nature of reality is increasingly dicey.

As the femme fatale, Katherine Randolph is pretty hot and believably manipulative. Though Gun probably would not cut it for late night Cinemax programming, there is enough sex and nudity to keep a horny teenager alert. There is also a pleasantly moody torch-jazz vocal from producer Esther M. Goodstein, appearing as Belle, a nightclub singer playing a room in the middle of nowhere.

Ironically, her ex-husband Vincent is played by a real jazz-standards vocalist, the great Robert Davi of Profiler and License to Kill fame. Having just released a Sinatra tribute CD, On the Road to Romance, Davi’s turn in Gun could be considered the dark side of Harold Arlen’s “One More for My Baby.” As usual, his presence adds an element of gravitas to the film. Unfortunately, Steven Man just cannot convincingly carry off a hardboiled noir lead. Frankly, he comes across a bit nebbish as Lewis, which hardly works in the context of the film.

Gun’s big twist borrows substantially from several films, but to cite them would give the game away. Still, Kanefsky ties together his karmic strands quite neatly. Though it was clearly shot on a shoestring, Gun still has enough to offer Davi fans and Maxim readers interested in Randolph to make for a rather entertaining video/streaming rental. It is now officially on-sale from MTI Home Video.