DATELINE: Big Town Movie
Billed as a darkly comic crime drama, we had visions of billboards along a highway with Oscar performances.
On top of that, this would-be up-dated film noir movie was being streamed for less than a dollar. If you want to convince people you have a bad movie, that will go a long way to achieving the effect.
Small Town Crime, whatever its price, is actually an interesting movie. Not quite an all-star cast, it has many familiar faces and highly competent actors who give us a detective story with a twist of lemon.
We failed to see any dark humor in an alcoholic policeman thrown off the force and desperately trying to solve a murder as a civilian to win back his job. John Hawkes looks even more weather-beaten and exhausted than Robert Mitchum or Humphrey Bogart in the role of laconic dick.
Slowly, as he recovers from his alcoholic haze, he seems to become the reformed detective he wishes he could be.
We were thrilled to see Octavia Spencer as star and producer. Add Anthony Anderson, Robert Forster, and Clifton Collins, and you have a cast worth watching. The good guys are delightful when they form their alliance. And who would not want to team up Clifton Collins and Robert Forster?
To reform his reputation and act the role of a hero, disgraced detective Mike Kendall (Hawkes) must go through the usual physical pains along the way. This is first-rate noir, even in color and mostly during the day in Utah where setting is suitably empty with beauty and sordid with criminals.
The film builds to its climax and grows in its appeal as a thriller.