“Savage Eye”

Hal Savage's quartet of short one-acts is an homage to noir thrillers. The three very short pieces in the first half — B Queen, Picture Perfect, and Archie — deal either with '40s-era Hollywood or the clichés of hard-boiled plots, from the brassy, platinum-wigged divorcee to the private dick who falls in love with the woman he's supposed to follow. The scripts are clever, but the productions fail to create a mock-noir atmosphere, and the acting is rather too B-movie, so that Picture Perfect, for example, feels like something from the middle of a Bad Spillane Contest slush pile. Frisco Follies, in the second half, is better. This longer piece actually builds a miniature murder mystery. Linda Bilinger-Tarrant is quite funny as the sweet but gutter-mouthed stripper Cherie, who's knocked around by her manager and stalked by an admirer from Bolinas. When she's found dead on her dressing room floor, it's up to Lt. John Sayer (Savage) and a “girl dick” named Violet Macintosh (Denise Polt) to solve the crime. Savage, Polt, and Tom McMillan (as the admirer) walk that narrow line between amusing mock-noir and just plain bad. “I'm an — exedysiast,” Cherie tells her manager, trying to defend her self-respect as a striptease artist. “What does that mean? You can't even say it,” her manager says. Cherie pouts. “You try sayin' it.” So there.

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