By Linc Leifeste | March 6, 2012
Director: Sam Henry Kass
Writer: Sam Henry Kass
Starring: Holt McCallany, Michael Badalucco, Nicholas Turturro, Ray Mancini, Steve Buscemi, Anne Meara, Samuel L. Jackson, John Turturro, Tony Sirico, Jennifer Beals, Wayne Maugans, Sam Rockwell, Adam LeFevre, Lodge Kerrigan, Aida Turturro, Joseph Siravo, Pat McNamara
When I heard that The Search for One-Eye Jimmy, a little-known independent film from 1994 featuring the likes of Steve Buscemi, Samuel L. Jackson, John Turturro, Sam Rockwell, and Michael Badalucco, was being re-released on DVD and blu-ray I was alternately intrigued and shocked that I’d not heard more about the film. After sitting through the eighty-plus minutes of this mess of a movie, I’m more shocked that it’s again seeing the light of day.
Freshly graduated from film school in LA, Les (Holt McCallany) returns to his old Brooklyn neighborhood, along with his cameraman (Lodge Kerrigan), with aspirations of filming a documentary about the neighborhood and its colorful residents. It’s not long before he’s caught up in the disappearance of a local loser Jimmy Hoyt (Sam Rockwell), known as One-Eye Jimmy because of his glass eye, and decides that the search for Jimmy would make for a more interesting documentary, especially if he turns up murdered. Les is assisted in his endeavors by Joe Head (Michael Badalucco), the neighborhood’s oldest virgin who is also known for his gargantuan head size, and Junior (Nicholas Turturro), a flashily-dressed small-time crook and kleptomaniac. Also frequently present is Lefty (Ray Mancini), but generally not at the same time as Junior, as they have a running feud due to Junior repeatedly stealing Lefty’s car.
The search for Jimmy leads to the Hoyt household where we’re introduced to Jimmy’s Bud-swilling brothers Ed (Steve Buscemi) and Tommy (Wayne Maugans) along with their distraught mom Holly (Anne Meara) and less concerned dad Harold (Pat McNamara). Soon Les is interviewing other colorful characters who know Jimmy in hopes that they’ll give him the information he needs to figure out what’s become of him. Among these is local disco-dancing legend Disco Bean (John Turturro), who refuses to accept the death of disco and spends his days perfecting his dance moves in an empty warehouse. It’s from Disco that we learn how Jimmy Hoyt became One-Eye Jimmy, a story that involves oral sex and a pellet gun accident. Another interviewee is crazed Vietnam veteran Col. Ron (Samuel L. Jackson), who spends his time fishing for shoes in a local stream and claims to have seen Jimmy recently. But as it turns out, it was actually One-Arm Jimmy that he’s been in touch with. Ultimately we discover that Jimmy is okay, he was just accidentally locked in the basement of his apartment building for a few days before managing to escape.
Basically the film is a series of character sketches, featuring a talented cast of character actors, that just isn’t very funny or all that interesting. It has all the ingredients of a cult classic; it’s offbeat with a low-budget, a talented cast featuring a who’s who of indie actors, and it’s known only by a few. But despite a few funny moments and some familiar faces it’s always great to see on-screen, the sum total is sadly just not nearly as impressive as the casting would lead you to hope. Kino Lorber has recently released The Search for One-Eye Jimmy on DVD and blu-ray.