As part of my movie watching for TGGeeks I’ve decided to take a look at movies for the LGBTQ community that have probably flown under most people’s radar, and this time I’m going to examine the third of the Donald Strachey gay detective movies, Ice Blues.
Donald Strachey is a private investigator, with something of a past that he likes to keep hidden. One thing that he doesn’t hide is that he’s openly gay, and living in Albany NY allows him the right to marry his longtime partner, Timmy Callahan, who is a legislative aide to New York State Senator Glassman. Their marriage is common knowledge in the LGBTQ community, as is the fact that Donald is the first gay P.I. compliments of an article that was done on him in The Advocate. Donald is also just as much of a wannabe Colombo as Timmy is a poster boy for Brooks Brothers.
Timmy has been working on a special project for lost youth. It’s a safe shelter house for those who have run away, kicked out, or feel they have no place else to go. However, funding has dried up to the tune of over 2 million dollars. While going to his car to go home he’s approached by a young, mysterious man offering him 3 million dollars from an anonymous donor. Before Timmy can get to the bottom of it they are attacked and they each run for their lives. Timmy manages to get away, but not the poor young man Timmy was talking to as he’s now found dead in Donald’s car the next morning. What follows is a dual mystery. Who killed the young man and why, and who is now threatening both Donald and Timmy unless they return the money?
The evolution of this series of movies has been a joy to watch. Not only have the actors playing the principal roles here grown into the characters they play, but there is also some noticeable growth with the characters themselves. Also, the earlier movies had a tendency to focus on one particular character, but here every one is getting some equal time, especially Sebastian Spence as Timmy. While Timmy had been relegated to the background to provide Donald a martini at the end of the day, circumstances have forced Timmy to take a strong approach involving the money and the threats they are receiving, and this can only mean great stuff for Sebastian Spence. With the past movies, there have been a few moments of whimsy here and there, and many of Spence’s roles in past projects have all ranged from dramatic to science fiction, all with a serious tone to them. Here he gets to free up his funny-bone and act in some scenes with some really nice comedy, and he does it all within the framework of the character of Timmy Callahan. This might be a result of having become comfortable with the part of Timmy. In any case, Spence has some juicy moments where he is finally allowed to react to situations in a way that gets some good laughs, which perfectly breaks up the intense thrill ride that the rest of the story that Donald must contend with. As he starts digging into the mystery some nasty unpleasantness is uncovered, which raises the stakes and creates for some very intense scenes. As Donald, Chad Allen also shows how comfortable he is within the skin of Donald, and while his acting in the first film Third Man Out was already quite strong, here Allen feels even more relaxed in the part to where even the most subtle of reactions feel perfectly normal and appropriate for the character. Allen has always shown what strong acting chops he has, but here he is showing a nuanced performance that almost leaves all others behind. Then by combining both Allen and Spence on the screen, the scenes become pure magic, and luckily for us, this movie has plenty of opportunities for them to act in all sorts of situations giving the relationship of Donald and Timmy even greater depth.
Adapted by Ron McGee from the novel by Richard Stevenson, returning director Ron Oliver has unquestionably proven himself to be as invaluable to this franchise as both Allen and Spence are. Whatever his directorial style may be, it clearly works based on what Allen, Spence, and everyone else in the cast and crew is bringing to this movie. Oliver clearly understands the old film-noir detective genre, and he has recaptured it and delivered it to us with a rainbow-colored bow on top. He has given us something that this critic feels is very much needed for the LGBTQ community today, and that is a murder mystery thriller solved by a married couple, only this time the married couple just happen to be healthy and happy, monogamous same-sex couple, and I think that’s what makes this movie, as well as the others in this franchise, as wonderful as they are. They’re not in the process of coming out or are just trying to build a relationship together. They are already together and they are living their lives just as any other couple would. We the viewer get to see how that plays out, both the good and the bad, only this time it’s treated as a non-issue and the real focus is the mystery. As vital as movies dealing with coming out or dating issues are, so are movies like Ice Blue where we get to see a very much in love gay couple trying to get to the bottom of a nasty murder that has connections to both Timmy and Donald. Not only is Ice Blue highly entertaining as a murder mystery, but it presents a very positive message to others in the LGBTQ community by showing that it is very possible to find the right relationship and live Happily Ever After.
All of the Donald Strachey movies can be found on HereTV.