After the Game (The Last Hand) (1997)
Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.
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Low budget murder mystery set in cowboy country, with a decent plotline.
Four sleazy poker buddies meet for their usual game in a back room of the Commercial Hotel and Casino in Elko, Nevada. On the way home, the big winner (Gorshin) catches a gutful of lead - and his briefcase full of cash disappears.
The Elko police aren't interested in fielding questions; in fact, they seem to be overlooking the bullet hole in Gorshin's chest.
Gorshin's son (Dubac) rides into town to carry out the subsequent noir sleuthing. Soon enough, the cash, a huge stash of coke, the deed to the casino - and the town's easy-to-make wife - all end up in play. The last man standing will be winner-take-all.
This is not an A-level who-dun-it script, nor is it an innovative one, but it's fairly twisty and it is not seriously flawed. A lot of plot blossoms from it rather neatly, in fact.
The film appears to suffer most from poor financing. The scoring and acting are weak. Given enough cash, this project would have likely played your town. The director's clearly accomplished a lot given what limited funds he had.
At minimum, the film really required a strong dramatic lead and some serious femme fatale eye candy - items apparently unaffordable - to have a chance at engaging the viewer. Add the caliber of leads, steam and noir camerawork found in 'Palmetto' and this work has a shot at decent boxoffice rake.
The director apparently instead used his discretionary funds to put Gorshin and Rawls on deck. However their brief presence - and their names on the marquee - appear to have added little to the film's appeal or marketability.
RECOMMENDATION: Serious lovers of noir will probably appreciate the film - and be willing to overlook its shortcomings.
NB: Yes, Virginia, there IS an Elko, Nevada. I lived there for two years. It's a fairly untouched 'cowboy country' hub for sheepherders and ranchers, hosts the lovely Ruby mountain range as well as an annual 'cowboy poetry' reading. And it's just six hours of driving - half paved, half dirt road - from Las Vegas.
February 7, 1948 was a big day in Elko. Ceremonies were held at both the (now dark) RanchInn and The Commericial, to name Bing Crosby Honorary Mayor of Elko. The crooner owned a large ranch just north of town and spent many summers there.
4.5/10. A little slow moving, but it does have occasional style. The performances are fair, the characters aren't very appealing which making it hard to get involved in the movie. It seemed a lot longer than 89 minutes.
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