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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I tell you, someone is trying to kill me!", 14 Aug 2006
Having just read an interview with Morgan Fairchild in the local gay press about her role in the newest Donald Strachey thriller Shock to the System, it's a real treat to watch the first Strachey film now just released on video and starring the talented and out gay actor Chad Allen.

Based on one of the early novels by Richard Stevenson, Third Man Out is a gorgeously campy homage the forties noirish thrillers - except that there's one twist - the handsome, hunky detective is decidedly gay and lives a respectable suburban life with his boyfriend Timmy Callahan (Sebastian Spence), they're even in the middle of renovating their home.

Things get nasty when Strachey is called upon to protect John Rutka (Jack Wetherall), a local gay activist, who runs a webzine dedicated to outing important people, particularly hypocritical politicians. Someone is trying to murder Rutka and although Strachey is initially hesitant to help the man out, he is eventually convinced Rutka is telling the truth when he turns up dead.

Director Ron Oliver keeps the action and suspense flowing, cleverly shuffling around characters, clues, red herrings and various plot machinations. In one instance, suspicion falls on Rutka's younger boyfriend Eddie (Woody Jefferies) as he was seen walking past just as a firebomb was thrown at Rutka's house. Strachey also mistrusts Rutka's sister (Sean Young), who is out to inherit most of her brother's property.

But in typical noir style, the narrative builds as clues and missteps are piled on top of each other and Strachey eventually discovers a furtive pornographic blackmail plot. Keep in mind, Strachey always has his lovely boyfriend to come home to, and it's a refuge, away from the harsh realities he must deal with on a daily basis.

Third Man Out as a slick, gritty feel, heightened by its very gay sensibility and for a television movie on a fledgling television network, the production values are outstanding. Allan is a perfect choice to play Strachey and he totally inhabits the character's penchant for grittiness and sometimes even using violence and threats to get the necessary information. He's a good-looking and sexy, yet totally tough detective, who never shies away from the truth.

Although its prime function is to entertain, Third Man Out also finds room for social comment - the politics of outing, the problems of gay men trying to live in a straight society, the hypocrisy of those in positions of power and sexual abuse by the certain members of the clergy, are all addressed.

Ron Oliver and writer Mark Saltzman have made thrilling and sophisticated movie and I'm sure the series will only get better. Kudos, however, must also go to the talented Allen who imbeds this character with so much realism and is able to make the story really work. Mike Leonard August 06.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Butt ler did it!!, 22 Mar 2008
pete "big blue pete" (edinburgh scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Third Man Out [DVD] (DVD)
There are worse ways to spend the evening. Third Man Out is a slightly overwraught whodunnit with TV movie production values but it's a bit gay so we have to judge it more leniently as it's better than nothing, right? Well .....YES. Forgive the fact that its really preachy, and that the gay rights message about double-standards isn't exactly subtle, you have to give credit to the fact that everyone involved from Chad Allen to a very well endowed gay porn star give their all to this enjoyable gay themed slice of detective whodunnit!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Made For TV Gay Cop Type Thing!, 20 Feb 2012
Tommy Dooley "Tom" (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Third Man Out [DVD] (DVD)
This is a gay crime mystery that was made for a TV audience and once you get your head around that, that then you know that there will be limitations both in terms of budget and bedroom wrangling. It stars Chad Allen who plays Donald Strachey; he is a Private Investigator who was once a cop. He has a live in boyfriend in Timmy (Sebastian Spence) they have moved into a new home and it is being renovated by `Dykes on Bikes' a la `Petrocelli' the eighties cop that never finished his home.

Strachey drives a battered up heap of rubbish that is as reliable as a Mexican rail time table. A la `Colombo' eighties TV cop. He is gay so likes to suck on things a la `Kojak' seventies TV cop (lollies). So a bit of a composition of cops we have seen before. And what is wrong with that, as just because his sexual orientation is not the same that he should be completely different in all respects.

He gets hired by one of those gay activists that go around `outing' hypocrites. He has been receiving threats and thinks his life is in danger. The thing is he has upset so many people that Strachey tells him to keep his money and his job and his hot boyfriend - might have wanted to think through the last one.

The plot develops and you know our lovable cop will take on the role. There are some questionable bits like the car in the studio with the background being projected; I have not seen that for a while. There are more than a few clichés and some seriously questionable acting including `Dick Steel' enough said.

Despite all of the above I really liked it, it has a heart and a soul and there were some quite funny moments even if they were painfully signposted on more than one occasion, if you grew up liking Scooby Doo before you started to like males of the two legged variety (or three if you are really lucky), then the plot twists will not be a problem at all. If you want something devilishly deep and sinister then this should go on your rental `c' list.

So a made for TV gay, cop show that is no genre bender, but for me it worked.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good gay film, 27 Sep 2013
Mikey (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Third Man Out [DVD] (DVD)
Pretty good for a gay mystery film. Not for everyone, but I certainly enjoyed it.
Go on, give it a try!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Loved It, 22 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Third Man Out [DVD] (DVD)
Loved Chad Allen in Dr Quinn so thought i would give it a go. Though very much in a made for TV movie style I think the story acting etc was spot on.
Wardrobe needs some work lol but the whole thing is gay themed and it flows naturally. I am now ordering the entire series as im now addicted
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Which is more odious: A man who outs closeted gay hypocrites or drug company CEOs? Strachey helps us decide, 19 April 2007
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
Which would be worse if you're a gay detective based in Albany, New York...slugged in the kisser by an irate blonde who doesn't care for the photos you took of her husband or being called "Nancy-boy Drew" by the corrupt and catty manager of a hotel who secretly films the doings of some of the guests? Donald Strachey (Chad Allen) doesn't much care for either, but this is nothing compared to what he is about to get involved in. Fortunately, Strachey is a happily married man, or as close to it as a gay man can be. His partner, Timmy Callaghan (Sebastian Spence), is a smart, affectionate political assistant to an elected New York state assemblywoman. Strachey's latest case brings him a client that both he and Timmy are repulsed by.

John Rutka (Jack Wetherall), an aging, self-righteous gay demagogue, publishes a cable expose program called The Rutka Report. In it he outs closet gays, especially well-known married public homophobes who promote family values and sponsor anti-gay legislation while secretly making nighttime visits to highway rest stops and wearing their leathers at, ah, small, intimate parties. After someone breaks into his home and shoots him in the leg, Rutka goes to Strachey for protection. Strachey turns him down. Outing people, Strachey and Timmy agree, is one of the lowest forms of human activity. But the need for Strachey to earn an income changes their minds. Even though Strachey has to hold his nose, he takes on the job. It's not long before a charred corpse turns up and is identified through dental records and that gunshot wound by the cops as Rutka. Strachey took the man's money; now he's determined to find the man's murderer. There are three prime candidates, one of whom Rutka was going to pick as the cover-boy for his next broadcast. From Rutka's files, Strachey identifies Ronnie Linklater, the host and star of a hugely popular children's television show who enjoys using his hand-puppets in unusual ways; Bruno Slinger, a powerful, anti-gay Congressman who thinks B&D without a little pain for his partner is for sissies; and a person Rutka identified only as "the ultimate hypocrite." From there, Strachey doggedly goes through piles of Rutka's documents, financial records and computer files. Along the way he visits sleazy motels, a Catholic church, a hospital and a funeral; he encounters Rutka's body-building partner, Rutka's foul-mouthed sister, an exercising granny who puts moves on him, and various tough guys who push him around and pistol whip him. He leaves one of them limping, after Timmy gets beaten up, by using a power nailer to plow a nail into the guy's foot. Strachey also visits a porn call-in site where the owner, Dik Steele, for a fee will talk to heavy breathing call-in chumps. Even Strachey looks put off a bit at the operators posing as Steele...balding, chubby males and grannies with deep voices, all pretending to be Dik Steele in the throes of ultimate passion. Kind of like internet sites. The conclusion carries a powerful and unexpected twist which some may like and some may not.

Third Man Out is the first of what may be a series of Canadian cable movies featuring Chad Allen as Donald Strachey. The second, Shock to the System, was broadcast in 2006. It seemed to me that with Third Man Out, director and writer Ron Oliver was still in the process of finding the right balance between message and mystery. Oliver and Allen deal with a lot of issues here, some head on, some in passing, everything from hypocrisy, AIDs and the costs of AIDs medicine, the ethics of outing, gay relationships and on and on. For me, all these messages began getting in the way of the mystery, which I thought was well-constructed with clever false leads, good characters and a disturbing conclusion. With Shock to the System, I think Oliver found the formula that works...make sure you put the mystery first and keep the messages low-key. For readers, the Donald Strachey mysteries by Richard Stevenson, all eight of them, are worth buying. The plots are strong and Strachey makes for a believable, sometimes cocky private eye. They are solid mysteries that happen to feature a gay private detective; they're not simply gay mysteries.

This is obviously a made-for-TV movie. Everything has that clean, careful TV look. The main characters do fine acting jobs but some of the secondary roles lack a little skill. There is one bonus feature, "Coming Out with the Cast and Crew," which I didn't watch. It comes down to this: Whether you enjoy the plot may depend on whether you see the ethics of outing as the same moral equivalent of being the CEO of a drug or insurance company. Tough call.
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Third Man Out [DVD]
Third Man Out [DVD] by Ron Oliver (DVD - 2008)
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