Monday, 13 September 2021
Wednesday, 1 September 2021
Donald Strachey was created by American journalist and author Richard Lipez, who's openly gay, under the pen name Richard Stevenson. Strachey lives in Albany, N.Y. with his longtime partner Timothy "Timmy" Callahan, the aide to a New York state senator, and often investigates cases which concern the local gay community. Sixteen Donald Strachey Mystery novels were published between 1981 and 2019. Oddly, only a quarter were adapted.
« I've heard about you. You're that little Nancy boy Drew running around town causing trouble. »
From 2005 to 2008, U.S. premium LGBT channel Here TV shown four films shot in Canada and starring Chad Allen (Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman) as Donald Strachey and Sebastian Spence (First Wave) as Timothy Callahan: Third Man Out (2005), Shock to the System (2006), On the Other Hand, Death (2008) and Ice Blues (2008). All were helmed by director Ron Oliver (Queer as Folk, Psi Factor). Based on the fourth book, Third Man Out was written by Mark Saltzman.
An unknown shooter tries to kill gay activist John Rutka in his own home. Eddie Santon, his boyfriend, asks private detective Donald Strachey for help. Donald reluctantly accepts the case as Rutka is famous for outing personalities whom he considers hypocritical. He saves his client from a fire in his house but soon thinks that John and Eddie staged the attacks and he decides to quit. When John Rutka is found dead, Strachey faces Santon's reproaches and resumes his investigation.
For his next target, Rutka was about to choose between congressman Bruno Slinger, TV puppeteer Ronnie Linklater and an unidentified third personality. Third Man Out successfully combines mystery and a film noir atmosphere with romance. Chad Allen is convincing as a P.I. right from his first scene (Strachey's car is an old Toyota Tercel). The romantic aspect of the Donald Strachey films comes from the relationship between Donald and Timmy, influenced by the Thin Man movies (1934-1947) and their husband/wife detective duo Nick and Nora Charles (1).
The chemistry between gay actor Chad Allen — outed by a tabloid in 1996 — and Sebastian Spence, who's straight, is essential to the charm of these adaptations. Though their characters come from different worlds (Donald has a military past, Timmy's father is a Republican congressman), they are committed to each other and live happily in a house in perpetual renovation with their dog Dr. Watson. A place where the couple always enjoy a Martini at the end of the day.
« Timmy, I think maybe you'd better take Dr. Watson for a walk.
- I just did.
- I think he needs to go again.
- Okay. Excuse me while I out my dog for the good of us all. »
In Third Man Out, Strachey gets to know Albany Police Detective Bub Bailey (Daryl Shuttleworth). He also meets a hotel desk clerk named Kenny Kwon. The role was originally a bit part in the first film but actor Nelson Wong came back in the others, this time to be Donald's assistant. Since Ice Blues, the last Donald Strachey, Wong played characters named "Kenny Kwon" in several Hallmark TV movies directed by Ron Oliver. Fans of both Hallmark Channel and Wong call these participations "the Kennyverse". The latest is A Timeless Christmas (2020).
John Rutka is played by Canadian stage and TV actor Jack Wetherall (Queer as Folk). Sean Young (Blade Runner) is Ann Rutka. The rest of the cast of Third Man Out includes Woody Jeffreys (Eddie Santon), Matthew Rush (Dik Steele), April Amber Telek (Alice Savage), John Moore (Bishop McFee), Alf Humphries (Father Morgan), P. Lynn Johnson (Senator Dianne Glassman), Kirsten Williamson (DaVinci's Inquest) as Meredith, David Palffy (Stargate SG-1) as Bruno Slinger, Sean Carey (Ronnie Linklater), Richard Ian Cox (Black Stallion) as Howie, etc.
Produced by Shavick
Entertainment (The New Addams Family), Insight Film and Video Productions Ltd and Barry Krost. Exec produced by Paul Colichman and James Shavick. Randy Zalken is the co-executive producer. Produced by Kirk Shaw. Stacey Belecos Shaw is the associate producer. Cinematography by C. Kim Miles. Music by Ronnie Way and Bill Cunningham. In Heat, In Love composed by Peter Allen (lyrics by Dave Hudgins) and performed by Sibel Thrasher, who appears in the film.
Martinis by Moonlight composed by Ronnie Way and Bill Cunningham and performed by Ronnie Way. Editing by Tony Dean Smith. Production designed by Rick Whitfield. Victoria Soderholm is the set decorator, assisted by Andrew Ried. Title design by Krista Lomax. A Here! Films/Regent Entertainment presentation. Chad Allen retired from acting (and production) in 2015 to become a psychologist. Third Man Out and the other Donald Strachey Mysteries made for television are a celebration of detective fiction.
(1) See the documentary Martinis & Murder: Inside the Donald Strachey Mysteries (2009).