Widely known as Elaine Benes’ lunkhead boyfriend David Puddy in Seinfeld, actor Patrick Warburton’s character acting resume extends eons beyond “Puddy.”
Sandwiched between Seinfeld and a long string of gigs in blockbuster animated movies like The Emperor’s New Groove and Hoodwinked, Warburton starred in a low-budget, neo-noir black and white indie film, The Woman Chaser. Stand By For Mind Control aptly dubbed it as “the best movie you’ve never seen” when they reviewed the film.
“The Woman Chaser, as many have been coming to realize over the years since its release, is one of the best — and weirdest — neo-noirs ever made. Warburton, playing used car salesmen/genius filmmaker Richard Hudson, gives a performance he’s never topped; he’s never had the chance to,” according to the astute review. “Characters like Hudson don’t come along often. I don’t know how first time writer/director Robinson Devor knew Warburton was his man, but then again I don’t know how he knew any of his insane choices would work. Yet they do. Devor made a masterpiece.”
A masterpiece or a student film
Warburton marks 20 years since the film’s release with a screening at the Alamo Drafthouse/Village on March 14 in Austin, Texas. The Woman Chaser screening coincided with South by Southwest, and filmmakers kept the screening date although SXSW was canceled. Warburton shared with Showbiz Cheat Sheet what it was like working on the film, which received critical acclaim despite being a buried treasure.
“So, [filming] was a grind because we had to steal many a location where it was a very low budget,” Warburton recalls. “Well, it was probably somewhere under half a million dollars. And most of that was probably involved in post-production and film stock. It’s real guerrilla filmmaking. But it was a really cool experience because it is really cool material.”
The Woman Chaser debuted at the New York Film Festival and Sundance, followed by SXSW. “When we were in New York, we debuted with Jane Campion’s new picture, which was called Holy Smoke, I think it was the one that she did with Harvey Keitel. She won the Academy Award the year before. So we were just, you know, this tiny little movie and paired with Jane. And we had sold out a 1,200-foot theater.”
Both shows sold out, he recalls. “It seemed to be very well received everywhere, except for our New York critic who was a little harsh. But the movie is unique. It’s been called everything from a student film to a masterpiece.”
The little movie with a big hilarious edge
Warburton shares that even though not many people may have seen the film, those who have can’t get enough of it.
“But what’s been really reassuring to me is that throughout the years, whenever I’ve come in contact with somebody in the industry who I’m a big fan of or I think is pretty bright, got great perspective, has approached me and said, ‘Hey, I loved The Woman Chaser.‘ And it’s cool as well because it’s that little movie that people find. And are looking for something different and interesting when they find it.”
Finding it wasn’t always easy. The Woman Chaser was released at a transitional period when VHS films morphed into DVDs. “It was buried,” he adds. “The format went from VHS to DVD. There weren’t even DVD copies of this except for homemade ones. So it was a lost film for some time.”
Warburton says The Woman Chaser can be streamed on Amazon Prime for those who can’t make it to the anniversary screening.
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