Al Roach: Private Insectigator (2004) takes place in the weeds behind the Hollywood sign where a colony of insects mirrors the golden era of Hollywood. Created by Obie Scott Wade, this CG film noir short won Best in Show and Audience and Critic's Pick at the Palm Springs International Short Film Festival and qualified for an Oscar® Nomination.
James Garner - Al Roach
Michelle Forbes - Dede Dragonfly
Kathy Kinney - Betty Earwiggins
Freddy Rodríguez - The Fly On The Wall
Gregg Berger - Professor Bugdonovich
Director: Obie Scott Wade
Writers: Jordan Beswick, Michael Maler
Original Music: Harold Barefoot Sanders III
USA 2004 - 6min Short Animation
"Al Roach" is a triumph of 'toon noir, a black-and-white tribute to every Philip Marlowe story you've ever watched or read. It even opens with the Warner Bros. logo, making me think for a while that it was decades older than it is. Verbal and visual puns abound at a pace that would give the Simpsons a run for their money, and the adult situations -- watch the antennae -- will tickle you without damaging the delicate sensibilities of any little ones who may also be watching."
"Jim Rockford goes buggy!
In this six-minute animated spoof/homage to film noir and old RKO detective B-flicks from the forties, James Garner provides the voice for AL ROACH, PRIVATE INSECTIGATOR.
Roach is the fedora-sporting roach gumshoe with a seedy office in Doowylloh (read it backwards), an entire town of insects in the dirt behind the Hollywood sign. And, like the real Tinsel Town, Doowlloh is a "colony dripping with gilt, seduction, and betrayal."
But down these streets a roach must go, and Al IS that roach. The trouble starts when a beautiful bug fatale named Dede with more curves than "Motholland Drive" struts into his seedy office, promising to do "anything" in exchange for his help in finding her missing scientist father, Dede's father, Professor Bugdonovich.
Originally produced as a pilot (for a potential series of shorts?) for Turner Classic Movies, the six-minute cartoon claims to be "one of the first - if not the first - black and white CGI animated film." So far, it's been well-received at The Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films, LA International Short Film Festival, Atlanta's DragonCon Film Festival and the Silver Lake Film Festival.
"I love the expressionistic, clean, stark use of contrast (in film noir) -- light and shadow. It's almost architectural." And this palette serves CGI perfectly. All the classics of film noir are stored in Wade's feverish brain. "I love Orson Welles' 'Touch of Evil.' "
What's the funniest thing about noir? "The hair," (Obie Scott Wade) laughs. "And the language is really very funny. We just don't talk that way anymore, but it has a quick back-and-forth, ratt-tatt-tatt banter that reminds me of the radio announcers of the period. It also manages to say a lot of very dirty things in double entendres."
If there's a sequel to "Al Roach," Wade says his roach fatale will ask Al to "Give me a chirp sometime. Ya knows how to chirp, dontcha? Ya just put yer legs together and rub!"
The director Obie Scott Wade about Michelle:
"I first spoke to Miss Forbes by telephone a few days prior to the record session. She has a very funny and warm personality and made me laugh right away. [...]
... each actor was only there for an hour and a half maximum. However, Michelle and I had such a good time talking, she stayed longer and we talked for hours. We talked about very meaningful topics such as global issues and her work in animal rescue. She's very active in the area of rescuing, rehabilitating and finding good homes for homeless dogs. Did you know that? Yes, she has a very big heart. [...]
Michelle required very little directing. Her instincts and inflection were perfect. She brought unparalleled sexiness and intelligence to the character. I could not have cast a more perfect actor. As far as casting, Michelle was my first choice and we were lucky enough to have her agree to be involved."
So let me get this straight, Miss Dragonfly.
Your father's missing and you want me to find him.
Yes, Mr. Roach. Please, you must help me.
The buzz is that you're the best private dick in the business and I won't settle for less.
You see, my father is a brilliant scientist who's invented a cure for insectigen.
You have heard of insectigen, haven't you, Al?
Yeah. First you get a
An hour later you're
Will you handle my case?
Nothing would give me more pleasure.
But I'm afraid I might get in too deep.
Get out of my way.
What's buggin' her?
Well with a thorax like that, she shouldn't have trouble finding a replacement.
Anyway, Wormer Brothers sent over those passes for the big premiere tonight.
They said we should get there early.
You promised, Al.
Besides, I already went and pulled my fancy dress out of moth balls.
That's some moth.
Where are you going?
I hope it's collect. Rent's overdue.
Why didn't you take her case, Al?
We could really use the dough.
Drop it, Betty.
Uh oh, looks like somebody got bit by the lovebug.
That's all I need, another dame gettin' under my skin like a tick
Last queen bee who stole my heart ended up gettin' me in trouble with the mafia.
Betty. What stung me?
Insectigen. You got the rash.
Al, maybe you shouldn't -
Where are you going?
You need to rest.
If I don't find that dame's father,
that's all I'll be doing.
I turned the town upside down
looking for that dame and her dad.
At least I think I did.
The insectigen was starting to play tricks on my mind.
I was feeling weak.
The rash was spreading fast.
I started seeing stars.
Not just the ones on the sidewalk.
I needed help, I knew it.
There was only one place to turn.
Yeah yeah, I saw the whole thing.
The old man's in room nine at the Motel Ticks up in Silverfish Lake.
Thanks pal. You never cease to amaze me.
Heh heh heh, they don't call me the Fly On The Wall for nothing.
Now give me some sugar, handsome.
Please, don't kill me.
You can have the antidote.
What the -
Thank you, Mr. Roach.
I knew you'd make a beeline to the serum
once you were infected.
Please, keep her away from me.
She's been trying to kill me.
You and me both, pal.
Well guess what, I'm through trying.
Now say goodnight fellas.
The bed bugs are about to bite.
Not so fast, sister.
Name's Betty. Bitch is waiting for you in the state fly trap.
Cuff her, boys.
So it turns out the old man wasn't even her father?
They'd never even met.
Then why all the buggabaloo?
She was the owner of the big pharmaceutical outfit
that makes all the drugs used to treat insectigen.
I get it, once the old man's cure goes up for sale, her company's profits go down the tubes.
What a louse.
You don't use drugs, do you, Betty?
I've got the only drug I need, Al.
You and a good movie.
You're a good egg, Betty."