Neo-Noir Trois: The Big Fix (1978)

May 23, 2019 | By

Neo-noir can be applied to this updated attempt at the private eye formula in which a just-getting-by, recently separated, alimony-taxed father gets a sweet gig not only with a slight expense account, but rekindles a paused romance from his days at Berkeley.

One of the reasons many film fans may have an affinity for L.A.-shot productions where the camera is always on location and embraces grimy alleys, out of the way plots, and concrete progress are the myriad TV series from the 70s and 80s set in and shot around the expansive city.



The films are time capsules of an era gone, if not the busy and the marginalized areas where everyday people travelled to & fro. A case in point is an electronics shop where The Big Fix’s private dick Moses Wine (Richard Dreyfuss) checks out a lead. It’s the kind of surplus shack that’s vanished from many cities – Toronto lost its Active Surplus in 2013 – with its character-laden innards of hand-painted signs, unkempt corners, and the odd hunk of tech conspicuously parked to the side, like a massive oscilloscope that’s plainly visible in the background as Wine queries a clerk.

It’s the first (and thus far only) film appearance of Wine, the chief character from Roger L. Simon’s trio of Moses Wine novels. Dreyfuss no doubt loved the character – it’s a fine performance – and perhaps like Simon, felt the potential for an occasional sequel was doable, much in the way Marlowe (1967) feels like an attempted launch that similarly tried to update the private eye formula to hip & swinging 60s California with sardonic James Garner as Raymond Chandler’s iconic Philip Marlowe.

Even as a one-off, The Big Fix (1978) works, but it is an odd film that will click with some, but might require a second chance with others. Twilight Time’s Blu seems to be its first mining of Universal deep, deep back catalogue, which contains a lot of gems that have never gotten their proper due on DVD or Blu-ray. Here’s hoping for more delightful surprises.

Coming next: the truly outraegous women-in-prison entry Escape from Women’s Prison (1984), on Blu it its uncut form via Severin.

Thanks for reading,



Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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