Released: Feb 01st, 1998
Running Time: 100
Director: Francois Clousot
Company: Sunshine Films
Cast: Jessica Darlin, Michael J. Cox, Laura Palmer, Christi Lake, Earl Slate, Tyler (I), Nellie Pierce, Jonathan Morgan, Frank Towers, Roxanne Hall
Critical Rating: AAAA
Michael J. Cox playing a hardboiled, booze-swilling shamus? What's next? Richard Simmons duking it out with Jean-Claude Van Damme?
Well, surprise, surprise. Cox, the one male performer you'd least expect a gritty Mike Hammer-type performance from, is downright exceptional in this noir sendup; and he does it in fine, suit and suspenders-style, incidentally, for all you GQ-hounds.
To its credit, L.A. Uncovered also gets all the conventional elements of the genre down reasonably cold - the long-legged dames, shadowy figures, wet pavement music, the mean streets and the unapologetic corridors leading to murder. Unfortunately, director Clousot forgets one minor detail on his way to an evidentiary marriage of Mulholland Falls and L.A. Confidential: A convincing script, which, alas, keeps this mood piece from sweeping up in the ratings department. Though what we get on screen (delivered in letterbox format, by the way) works reasonably well for porn noir.
There's a cute Bogie reference in L.A. Uncovered. But what the story basically lacks is a good, crackling villain, or gunsel, the kind that unfailingly would show up in a Bogart film. Accepting the sexual tension for what it is, and acknowledging the fact that every noir must include a sap, sucker, patsy or fall guy, chain-smoking femme fatale Roxanne Hall sends P.I. Eddie Reliant (Cox) on a wild goose chase. Said goose discloses a rambling tale of sex, prostitutes, blackmail, John Decker doing an ultra-weird turn as a druggie, the apparent murder of Hall's apparent sister, and a subsequent doublecross that makes no particular sense - given the fact that under strict noir guidelines, a torrid love triangle is what generally instigates the big bamboozle. A circle jerk is about the closest thing you'll find to classic noir geometry in L.A. Uncovered.
The suspect grilling in Cox's investigation along with the complementary flashbacks set the stage for the sex scenes which are generally delivered in a satisfying, heavy-hitting, two-fisted style. Not to be taken that literally, of course. Hooker Jessica Darlin takes "john" Vince Vouyer up her butt seven ways to Sunday. And, as Cox's girl Friday, Christi Lake dresses as though she's on her way to a porno convention. At least her ass certainly offers the admittance capacity of one, as witnessed by Lake's d.p. with Cox and Frank Towers.
Hall, who wields a mean cigarette, flits in and out of the script like the wafting smoke from a Pall Mall. Which pretty much describes her finale scene with Cox that ties up all the questionable loose ends way too fast and much too conveniently. Even for porn noir.
Yet L.A. Uncovered remains spirited, impressive and worth an evening's viewing for couples who want to uncover beneath the covers.