Setting Yourself Up: The Big Fall (1997)

PM Entertainment does neo-noir. Dave speaks to screenwriter William Applegate to find out more.

In the hundred plus movie legacy of PM Entertainment, it’s fair to say that there’s nothing quite like THE BIG FALL; a disarming blend of Raymond Chandler, bungee-jumping adrenaline junkies and surprisingly subtle action.

It really shouldn’t have been made.

“I don’t know how we got away with it!” recalls screenwriter William Applegate. “Tommy Howell and I hung out at my parents’ place, and we came up with the noir angle with a modern twist. However, I wrote another script simultaneous to The Big Fall, so when Joe Merhi wanted to see pages, I’d give him this other script [laughs]. By the end of it, well, Joe was livid! That movie was pretty much the end for me.”

Howell plays Blaise Rybeck, a Los Angeles private detective sporting a fedora and broad-shouldered suit that makes you wonder if he’s just arrived from 1947. He’s hired by the voluptuous Emma Roussell (Sophie Ward) to investigate the disappearance of her brother Kenny; a case that leads Rybeck into a double-crossing criminal underworld that may prove too tough to crack.

Admittedly, The Big Fall is a tough sell to most Pepin and Merhi aficionados. Exchanging cartoonish action for rain-soaked streets and a flash of neon, it does retain a slight explosive edge, albeit a muted one. Props to Howell, though, who, in his third directorial outing, really hits his stride, while Applegate’s rat-tat-tat dialogue will delight neo-noir lovers even if it leaves the majority of PM’s followers cold.

USA ● 1997 ● Drama ● 90mins

C. Thomas Howell, Sophie Ward, Jeff Kober ● Dir. C. Thomas Howell Wri. William Applegate Jr

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