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Rated 3.04 stars
by 236 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Screenplay Mania
by Betty Jo Tucker

Screenplay stealing

is just not fair,

even for one

that’s great and rare.


In this movie

a tale is told

of such a theft

by someone bold.



of course ensue.

Bad things happen --

not just a few.


Who would do such

an awful thing

and not expect

a bell to ring?


Familiar words.

Similar type.

Characters who

seem so alike.  


What is this film

with mischief done?



Actor James Wilder excels as a washed up screenwriter in this fascinating psychological thriller. He takes over the screen and never lets go. No wonder the Red Dirt International Film Festival named him Best Lead Actor. Three Holes and a Smoking Gun, directed by Hilarion Banks, also won the prestigious Grand Jury Prize at the same festival as well as Best Screenplay honors at L.A.’s Downtown Film Festival and Best U.S. Narrative Film of 2014 at the Laughlin International Film Festival. This little indie offering ends up as a perfect match for the talented lead actor and its riveting story.

Wilder’s ability to play “charming but sleazy” characters stands him in good stead for the lead role here. The versatile actor has previously portrayed an ambitious lawyer in TV’s Equal Justice, a drug-dealing seducer in “Melrose Place,” and a demonic serial killer in the acclaimed movie Murder One. He made each of those men quite believable indeed. In fact, the New York Times had this to say about his work in the latter: “James Wilder, as Carl Isaacs, is a thoroughly malevolent character, one in whom evil rather than insanity seems to prevail.”     

In 3 Holes and a Smoking Gun, Wilder endows Bobby Blue Day, the ex-Hollywood screenwriter, with some of those same characteristics. It’s easy to believe that Bobby, who’s now teaching an evening class in New York, wants in on the action after Jack, one of his students (newcomer Zuhar Kahn), mysteriously turns in one of the best screenplays he’s ever read.

Bobby even makes a night-time visit to Jack’s apartment. That’s when the battle of wits between these two less-than-honest “writers,” begins. And what an intriguing battle it is, thanks to the fine actors and to screenwriter Scott Fivelson (American Reel) for providing them with such excellent dialogue. Results of this teacher vs. student battle? Some surprising casualties, but I can’t reveal specifics without breaking my film critic’s oath.    

As in most thrillers, everything is not what it seems here. Still, it’s exciting and suspenseful to watch how far some people might go for a wonderful screenplay.           

(Released by ITN; not rated by MPAA.)

For more information about this movie, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.

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