Movie of the Week 60
The Cheap Detective 1978 crime comedy mystery
The lovely ladies of The Cheap Detective posing with Peter Falk: Clockwise beginning with Ann-Margaret (in fur coat), Marsha Mason, Stockard Channing, Louise Fletcher, Madeline Kahn, and Eileen Brennan. Gotta love those cool hats.
Not since the 1963 It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World had so many funny people gathered together for one film. Even mostly serious actors like Fernando Lamas, Louise Fletcher and Ann-Margaret seem to be having a ball just hamming it up. Peter Falk has a field day as Lou Peckinpaugh spoofing three of Humphrey Bogart’s most famous and beloved characters: Sam Spade from The Maltese Falcon (1941); Rick Blaine from Casablanca (1942) and Philip Marlowe from The Big Sleep (1946). My favorite character, aside from Falk, is Eileen Brennan as Betty DeBoop doing an outstanding spoof of Lauren Bacall’s lounge singer, Marie “Slim” Browning from To Have and Have Not (1944). Set in 1940 San Francisco, with a delightful jumble of detectives, dames, Nazis, documents and a treasure hunt, you can't describe any kind of plot. The whole thing is so much wonderful nonsense. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. The other spoofs of the old school detective-mystery genre (Murder by Death and Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid) are not near as funny as The Cheap Detective, making it easily the best of the three satires.
I suggest you watch the original Bogart movies, mentioned above, to better understand the in-jokes. I lost count how many times I have watched The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca, and it is great fun introducing these classic films to film-noir rookies. If you are a fan of the Bogie movies which it satirizes, this is definitely a must-see. It is you, for whom this movie was written in the first place.
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Written by Ben Clark. Copyright 2016-2023. All rights reserved.