Hot Bath, Stiff Drink an’ a Close Shave won the Finalist Award for drama (meaning it came in second) at the International Family Film Festival (IFFF), which took place at the historic Raleigh Studios in Hollywood, last month. Don’t feel bad for the film’s producer/star Jeffery Patterson, however, because the movie that finished first, Another Day in Paradise, was also a creation of his Once Upon A Dream Productions company.
Hot Bath, Stiff Drink an’ a Close Shave is part three in a series of westerns from Patterson and director Matthew Gratzner. Patterson plays twin brothers, Marshal Vance Dillinger and his outlaw mirror half, Lucky.
I re-read my review of one of the earlier films from two years ago, and it’s a good thing, because I was about to repeat what I said before. Short version: Patterson and Gratzner make westerns fun and exciting again. John Wayne would be proud of them. The story and the acting are both first class.
The action begins immediately. Marshal Vance Dillinger surrounds outlaw Dallas Cambridge, played by Robert Patrick (Scorpion, The X-Files, Terminator 2: Judgment Day) and his gang in a warehouse. Dillinger offers them the opportunity to surrender, and promises a fair trial. Only Dallas’ son Hobie takes him up on the offer. A firefight ensues in which all the Cambridge gang is killed, except for Dallas who escapes.
Hobie comes up before a hangin’ judge who orders him executed for his father’s crimes. Dallas swears vengeance on Marshal Dillinger’s family for his son’s hanging. Lucky (the Marshal’s twin) and his gang vow to help the marshal protect his family from a killer bent on vengeance.
And that’s just the beginning.
The biggest challenge in the acting arena falls to Patterson. This is certainly not the first time an actor has been tasked to play twins. Zach Galifianakis is currently playing both Chip and Dale Baskets on the Emmy winning comedy Baskets. A classic with this twist is Adaptation, with Nicolas Cage playing Charlie and Donald Kaufman. In both examples, it is obvious what is going on.
However, Patterson does such a good job of playing both parts that on a certain level you forget that both characters are the work of the same actor. This movie magic is helped along by excellent editing by Scott Hill.
If you’re going to have heroes, you also need bigger than life villains. Robert Patrick does such a great job as bad guy Dallas, that the audience at the International Family Film Festival actually applauded when he got his comeuppance. (That is not a spoiler. This is a western and bad guys never win.)
Two actors with continuing supporting roles deserve special praise.
Allison Eastwood (Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Finding Harmony), Clint’s daughter, as Dr. Elizabeth Reed shows us that Doctor Quinn Medicine Woman was not the only lady MD in the old west. There is a scene in this film where she confuses the identity of Vance and Lucky. That was fun.
Mirelly Taylor (Roswell FM, Underdog Kids), reprises her role as a tough talking and straight shooting bandita member of Lucky’s gang. She rocks.
I spoke with Director Matthew Gratzner about making the film. What surprised me most was that the production took only 25 days.
I asked him if he learned any lessons or had any major problems along the way. He praised his ensemble cast for making his job easy. He did admit that he might want to reconsider being both first and second unit director in the future.
Two things impressed me about the production as a whole. First, even though it is a story about violence and law breaking, the violence was, with maybe one justifiable exception, portrayed on screen in a non-sensational way. Second, the theme of the film is about the relationship of families. There is a point when two characters are arguing about a future action. One character justifies his action with the observation, “That’s what families do for one another.”
Another things families should do is see this film.