Deceptively titled, “The Woman Chaser” concerns a 1950s used car salesman who’s obsessed not with erotic pursuits but with making his own low-budget movie. A film-noir spoof with overtones of “Ed Wood,” pic brings nothing new to what is arguably the most overexposed terrain in movie satire. Though handsomely mounted in crisp, atmospheric B&W, and graced by a solid perf by Patrick Warburton in the title role, this unoriginal would-be comedy feels like a student film. Inexplicably selected for the New York Film Festival, its next stop should be non-premium cable.
Warburton, a “Seinfeld” veteran, comes off far better than the all-too-familiar moves of helmer Robinson Devor’s script, adapted from Charles Williford’s pulp novel. Stolid and fireplug-shaped, Warburton’s Richard Hudson sets himself up running an L.A. used car lot during a brutally hot summer, but soon falls victim to the lures of showbiz and his own peculiar psyche. Moving in with his mom (Lynette Bennett), an aging seductress who flutters her eyes even in his direction, he discovers that she’s married a washed-up moviemaker (Paul Malevitz) who seems capable of helping Richard mount the film he thinks can launch his career as a writer-director.
Although the unsmiling, self-absorbed Richard rather indifferently beds several women during his adventures, he remains focused on his dream project, “The Man Who Got Away,” a heavy-handed melodrama about a truck driver who accidentally runs down a little girl. Once the film gets made, the auteur is faced with objections that, at 63 minutes, it’s too short for a feature. Given the context, there’s no small irony in this. Basically a one-joke concept, “The Woman Chaser” itself might have worked better at 63 minutes or shorter; it could easily lose a half-hour.
Though pic mainly rehashes noir’s hard-boiled dialogue and deadpan attitude without adding anything new to past sendups, its visual evocation of the period is expert, recalling the likes of “Kiss Me Deadly.”