Written and directed by K. Patrick Tutera, The Last Hurrah is, in essence, a loving homage to film noir and another archetype of the time, the femme fatale. It is an intimate look at two people who were married and had a child together.
It is also about all things that make noir so popular. That invasive feeling that either one, or both, of the two protagonists are doomed. It also features a little greed, some lust and bit of double crossing…
Aleksandra Vujcic is Petra, a gorgeous classy looking dame (She has to be a dame; Sam Spade, the black and white medium and Lew Archer make it a necessity.) She is the foreign femme fatale that leads her former husband down a lane of deceit.
Michael Bronte is Samuel, not a gumshoe with a dangling cigarette and lisping delivery, but a robber, as is Petra. He sees their sharing of the spoils in her apartment a chance to reconcile their differences.
The director has a cameo as the “Man in Black” he is not Johnny Cash instead he is a killer for hire. He could possibly be Petra’s new lover. It is not clear who the man really is.
While the characters do not deliver their lines with that 1940’s rapid fire staccato of a Howard Hawks film, the dialogue is reminiscent of that time period. Snap brim fedoras, fox stoles and three piece suits mark the time period of this film.
The apartment could have come straight out of The Maltese Falcon or The Big Sleep. Camera work for the short feature is fairly stationary. The Last Hurrah could be done on the stage but it looks brilliant.
While the action is nearly claustrophobic in nature, the storyline and the interaction are perfect for the tale told here. The former couple, who find that they can still work together perfectly, are a glamorous couple of crooks.
Petra, with her fractured English and Greta Garbo type delivery, is a brilliant example of strong female leads from back in the day. The kind of woman who drove the men crazy while getting exactly what she wants from any relationship.
In this instance, the couple have a child in common. Petra uses the boy as a tool to force her ex husband into cooperating. Their offspring is also used as a diversionary tactic. Samuel may be the muscle of this team but Petra is clearly the brains as this little vignette shows.
The Last Hurrah ends on an almost surprising note. This femme fatale, with the two-toned nails and lipstick that we know is a deep blood-red color, has gotten exactly what she set out to achieve.
Tutera gives us a spider and fly scenario set against the stark black and white world of the 1930’s and ’40’s. The music chosen to set the mood could be lifted from any film during that time period and the director is not afraid to allow silence to frame a scene.
Philip Hurn, as cinematographer, lights the set brilliantly and the framing of each scene is spot on. The set and the designs feels right on the nose.
The Last Hurrah feels like a love letter in shorthand to Howard Hawks, John Huston and Billy Wilder. While the film is not perfect it does a great job of invoking those long ago days of cinematic glory.
Film producer, director and writer K. Patrick Tutera has informed us that his film will premiere at the Film Noir Festival in Albert, France 10, December this year. Fans of noir will want to check this one out.
This project is a high 4.5 star effort from all involved. It entertains and is an excellent homage to the days of big studios. Catch it if you can.