Black Cat Whiskey
- 1h 56m
A housewife whose criminal husband was recently murdered is strong-armed by a group of bootleggers during the Prohibition.A housewife whose criminal husband was recently murdered is strong-armed by a group of bootleggers during the Prohibition.A housewife whose criminal husband was recently murdered is strong-armed by a group of bootleggers during the Prohibition.
BLACK CAT WHISKEY is a 1930s Georgia set (yet filmed in Northern California surprisingly pretty convincingly) depression era gangster film. It's really quite impressive in that regard as the sets, props, vehicles and locations included in the production all look great. Even after doing several period films I'm inclined to think that Fredianelli did this time period/setting the most justice oddly enough (I think the only thing the anachronism-spotting history geek in me caught were the questionable ribbed glassware that looks like the stuff found in my kitchen today). It's definitely not an overstatement to say this film is easily among the two or three best looking in the Wild Dogs catalog by far.
The selection of the cast and performances of the film's actors also achieve good marks. This is definitely a notable film in the Wild Dogs filmography considering it features (next to maybe only APOCRYPHA) the only time a female protagonist has headlined one of their features. Vanessa Leigh (who previously had a small role in Fredianelli's MONEY FOR ANGELS) portrays the main character Katie and does a fine job. She portrays a strong woman, but realistically so. No punches are pulled on portraying how a woman (especially a lower class one in the south) would have likely been treated at that time, but she's a real person and while capable and strong, never goes full Superwoman when she goes to seek revenge on the villains of the picture who try to break her.
The supporting cast in the film is also quite memorable. Jeremy Koerner is given a much meatier role than what he had to work with in I DIE ALONE and does great in a turn as a twisted (almost Spaghetti Western like) gangster villain named Richard Hayden. Then there's James Allen Brewer (giving off a really Richard Crenna like vibe) seems right at home in Depression era crime mode. Gift Harris is memorable as is the ever reliable Ray Medved in some of the few sympathetic roles, while (newcomer to film?) George S. Gemette is downright frightening as a really unsavory character.
As far as the film goes, it's pretty entertaining and watchable if focusing on some not at all light subject matter. There's some really good set-pieces and some great shots throughout that will definitely stay with the viewer. Plenty of brutal violence is featured, but the final shootout is unfortunately kind of underwhelming on repeated viewings. There's also sadly a real apparent lack of practical effects on display with CGI crimson spray used most often instead of squibs and plenty of digitally added muzzle flash, bullet impacts, and a really shoddy looking computer-rendered fire that blazes.
Unfortunately, the film also has it's share of other problems and it proves to be another Wild Dogs film that still isn't quite there yet. I have a hard time pinpointing what it is specifically, but there's just something off about them. A lot of the time, I just feel like Fredianelli's movies ask a lot of the audience when they don't have to. There should be more in the movie that gets shown instead of alluded to and done in a more exciting manner that really engages the audience. Even if this is sort of a vague criticism at best, I know it's there given the SCARLET WORM was one (if not the only) not to suffer from it. It just felt like well-- more of a real movie to me. With all that said, BLACK CAT WHISKEY still comes recommended and is (at least for this viewer) superior to Hollywood's period gangster offerings as of late (PUBLIC ENEMIES, LAWLESS, and of course the stinker that is GANGSTER SQUAD) even if this indie probably cost about as much as it did to feed the cast and crew on those films. Great southern folk music score.
- May 11, 2013