Why is a large, lisping man named Shane rolling through Tucson in his Cadillac? And whence that mysterious gentleman in a mechanic’s uniform and porcine mask? Such questions are posed—but never answered—by Red 71, a low-budget neo-noir film from director Patrick Roddy. The movie cribs its plot from a 1932 short story by pulp writer Paul Cain (though Roddy sets the film in the ’60s): Dirty dealings at a (literally) underground bar called 71 lead to a conflict of financial and romantic interest, resulting in two murders and one unsavory incident involving drain cleanser. Shane (Nathan Ginn) has money tied up in the bar, plus he’s got the hots for the proprietor’s buxom wife, Lorain (Michelle Belegrin), so he hops in his Cadillac, starts playing detective, and roughs some dudes up. Roddy tries to style Shane as a noir villain/hero, but he’s really more of a patsy (Ginn’s sibilance doesn’t help). Watching this film for the sake of plot (or indeed audio quality) will make you suicidal, so instead enjoy the handful of character actors who spring delightfully (and inexplicably) into Roddy’s competently aimed shots. Of note: a female lush feeling up a Mexican busboy; a flamboyant, mustachioed sheriff; and Angus Scrimm (of Phantasm fame) as a mortician who uses tweezers to make himself a sardine-and-peanut-butter sandwich.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 23, 2008