2014 Short film written and directed by Mike Falconi, private investigator Sam Sellers (Ephraim Davis) reluctantly takes on a favour to find a jazz band’s missing saxophone player, before they are to perform at a local nightclub. Also starring: Timothy J. Cox, Ellay Watson, David A. Rodriguez, Jim Snyder, John Rifici, Thomas Schmitt, Gyasi Howard and Bruce Clifford.
From the moment the film begins, it puts forward the classic themes you associate with noir: mystery, crime, jealousy, cigarettes, booze and an intriguing woman. Sam (Davis) also has all the workings of your typical antihero, a good guy who let the job get to him and turns to liquor to soothe his troubles but makes him resentful and bitter. Davis does a great job of being apathetic and indignant but not so far as to make him an unlikeable character, we may not know so much about him but it’s enough to follow him through the story. Of course he has the help of a bundle of support actors, one whom is a regular appearance here at Film Carnage, Timothy J. Cox as a begrudging bar owner and another classic noir archetype. As well as Watson as Bethany, the curious and mysterious girlfriend who quite possibly knows more than she’s letting on.
That Terrible Jazz has a simple but satisfying story, following a string of what feel like nostalgic characters and leading to a satisfying finale. The atmosphere is set as something you might have found in a bar in the 1940s, a score slowly swirling around its characters waiting for the big reveal and the camera enhancing the small details to make the film era appropriate, although there are a few elements of costume and set that don’t quite fit the period.
Falconi has made a solid effort to give homage to the classic noir genre, taking a typical story and making it within a mere 15 minutes without feeling like it’s taken out critical detail. It ticks all the boxes, even if it doesn’t stray far outside them.