THE WOMAN CHASER: a (very, very) darkly funny once-lost film

The Woman Chaser

The eccentrically funny The Woman Chaser (1999) is a pulpy tale told with the conventions of film noir – shadowy black and white cinematography, a 50s LA setting, hardboiled patter, a deadpan protagonist and a bunch of losers.

Our hero is played by Patrick Warburton (Puddy from Seinfeld) in a smirking Alec Baldwin-type performance. He opens a car dealership while penning his dream screenplay – a story too ridiculously dark for even a noir audience. As he strives to get his film made, he navigates through a series of quirky bottom-dwellers, several of whom he is related to. His very odd relationship with his mother is illustrated by an extraordinary dance duet. The whole thing is very funny, especially if you’re a fan of noir and of movies in general. The Woman Chaser is directed by Robinson Devor, who adapted the screenplay from the Charles Willeford pulp novel.

BEWARE: There is a sudden and completely unacceptable act of violence. It’s so over-the-top that it’s meant to be satirical. But a substantial segment of the audience will find it very upsetting. Consider yourself warned.

When I saw The Woman Chaser, it was still a lost film, not seen since the 1999 New York City and 2000 Sundance festivals and a brief limited release by Landmark Theatres. San Francisco film programming guru Elliot Lavine was supporting the re-release of the film. It has since become available to stream.

Unfortunately, the great lounge soundtrack had to be replaced for the video re-release because of rights issues. The original soundtrack was an essential part of the movie. Listening to it, you can just imagine Paul Drake from Perry Mason sliding into a faux leather banquette at an underlit LA bar. You can see and hear the original soundtrack here.

This fine article from Reel Popcorn fills in the story of this lost film. And here is a review from Kim Morgan’s blog Sunset Gun.

The Woman Chaser is available streaming from Netflix Instant, Amazon Instant, Vudu, Hulu and Xbox Video.

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