THE WOMAN CHASER (35mm)
December 04 only
Part of our four-film tribute to Elliot Lavine, Lavine on the Lam! Notes on THE WOMAN CHASER from current Roxie Executive Director, Dave Cowen:
I saw 1999’s THE WOMAN CHASER in 2010 on a smeary ex-rental VHS copy, which was pretty much the only way you could see it at the time. I could barely believe what I was watching. Here was a film that had a stunning, brilliantly formal visual sense, a film that not only had a deep understanding of noir conventions but also showcased a uniquely stylish mid-century flair unheard of in a ’90s period piece. This was a film where every actor sinks their teeth into the source material – in this case, Charles Willeford’s pulp novel – and doesn’t let go, where the camera and the actors collaborate to create such a heightened fever dream of a film that your skin tingles while you watch it, giving you the feeling of being immersed in their dark, sordid world. And what a script! More than a noir, it’s a meta-noir, a paean to the unhealthy obsession with film many of us have developed, as Patrick Warburton’s Richard Hudson sinks deep into his cinematic dreams and almost drowns.
Despite THE WOMAN CHASER’s clear and obvious greatness, nobody was talking about it back in 2010. Despite the Internet’s ability to gather fans for just about any film, it was virtually unknown, with a search for the film’s title revealing nothing more than dog-eared copies of the source novel and one or two mentions on a handful of obscure message boards from back during its original release. While the Coen Brothers had gone from obscure low-budget indie saviors of period movies to feted directors, Robinson Devor had gone on to make a handful of other films that received just about as much attention as THE WOMAN CHASER did. I asked myself how it was possible that such a remarkable piece of filmmaking could go unnoticed, and duly noted the names of its champions as the tastemakers to watch.
A few months later, something wonderful happened, and I was grateful. It turns out that Elliot Lavine was an ardent fan of the film as well, had booked it, and there it was, playing on 35mm a quick BART ride away from my place, with Rob Devor and Patrick Warburton answering questions on the Roxie stage. This booking may not have fully propelled THE WOMAN CHASER back into the public’s imagination, but Elliot’s faith in this film back in 2011 is an example of the kind of adventurousness, remarkable taste and creativity that he displayed as a programmer – there is no question that San Francisco was introduced to countless great films purely due to his tireless work. While Elliot may be heading to points north, his spirit will remain at the Roxie, as we attempt to continue his quest to provide filmgoers with new experiences and deepen their understandings of the classics. In tribute, we’re pleased to bring THE WOMAN CHASER back to the Roxie screen one more time. Elliot, we wish you the best.
The Roxie will be performing the uncut black and white version of the film in 35mm.
90m, Robinson Devor, USA
FREE OR DISCOUNTED FOR MEMBERS
THE WOMAN CHASER (35mm): Upcoming Showtimes