›› Third Man Out
a film by Ron Oliver.
2005 | 95 mins | Canada.
principal players: Chad Allen / Donald Strachey, Sebastian Spence / Timmy Callahan, Jack Wetherall / John Rutka, Woody Jeffreys / Eddie, Sean Young / Ann Rutka, Sean Carey / Ronnie Linklater, David Palffy / Bruno Slinger, Matthew Rush / Dik Steele and with series recurring characters Nelson Wong as Kenny Kwon and Daryl Shuttleworth as Detective "Bub" Bailey.
Adapted Synopsis: "Openly gay private investigator Donald Strachey is hired to investigate the attempted shooting of John Rutka; a notorious publisher of a magazine mandated to "out" prominent New York citizens. Following his internal instinct Strachey walks away from the case, only to be propelled back in when Rutka's murder becomes front page news. Only is everything what it appears to be?"
From the ever expanding well of titles that I've been meaning to get around to reviewing for awhile now, comes this romantic thriller that is as high in suspense, as it is proudly gay to the core. Based on the book by Richard Stevenson, as adapted for the screen by Mark Saltzman, this in many ways is a breath of fresh rainbow coloured air; for exit stage left the well-tread coming out, rom-com, if not the descent into drug fuelled hell scenarios of many a gay feature and enter stage right a private investigator who happens to be gay, just doing his job. Not that this film is not laced with many a biting comment, as a story constructed around a gay rights activist infamous for outing celebrities stepping out of line, can only but speak of the hypocrisy of those who go out of their way to denounce homosexuality, yet are all too happy to engage in acts of man-sex behind closed doors.
Backed by an atmospheric jazz styled score, including the lush end credit song "Martinis By Moonlight" by Bill Buckingham and singer Ronnie Way and complete with Matthew Rush doing what he does best, well almost, given no surprise for guessing who's supplying the full frontal nudity of the piece, this is a production that belies its modest budget, thanks largely to the film's light and shade being handled with an abundance of TLC. Yet what makes this feature work is openly gay actor Chad Allen who plays his streetwise persona to a tee, returning home to his partner Timmy at night and here cue Sebastian Spence in the role of the supportive spouse, whilst getting to the investigative heart of the matter by day. It is a loving gay relationship - yes, a happy one, that forms the joyous foundation stone of this, the first in the series of Donald Strachey mysteries.
Determined to get his man in Third Man Out.
Set in Albany, New York, but filmed and as with many a work in Canada, frankly I was more than pleasantly surprised here, for whilst at times delivered telemovie style, which it is, the result is still an entertaining mix of drama and romance, with much of that down to Allen who charms throughout as the tough gay guy with a dark past, leaving Jack Wetherall of Queer as Folk USA fame on fine, if not scene-stealing form as a man with an ulterior motive in mind. Sure, some of the plot twists were predictable, but this is still a stylish crime caper, that of a murder mystery that and call me old fashioned, beautifully showcases two men dancing the night away, in each other's arms. And cinematically speaking, that's something you don't see everyday.
Martinis By Moonlight in Third Man Out.
In short, I liked it. And it would appear that I'm not the only one, as Chad Allen went on to reprise his role as America's favourite gay private eye, in three "back by popular demand" sequels. Only don't mention Strachey's ever moving tattoo; oh I just did!
Gay Visibility - overt.
Nudity - the full monty.
Overall - file under ... 3+ stars.