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Ginley (Albert Finney) is a nightclub bingo caller eager for a career change. On his thirty-first birthday, he advertises himself as a private eye in the newspaper. He dons a trench coat, and begins engaging others in rapid-fire dialogue as if he were Humphrey Bogart, or some Dashiell Hammett creation. Soon after, Ginley is phoned by a fat man, who gives him a package containing a gun, a photograph, and a large sum of money. Eventually Ginley is investigating a case involving smuggling of weapons as well as drugs. Ginley also finds himself at odds with his unsupportive brother, who offers Ginley payment to break off his investigations. Eventually Ginley learns of his brother-in-law's involvement in the crimes at hand. Ginley faces a series of daunting tasks: solving the crimes, bringing justice to the smugglers (and a murderer), as well as maintaining his safety and sanity in the process. Written by
"Gumshoe" is a nice film for Albert Finney to show his talent for wit and humor. The movie came fairly early in his film career at age 35 he had 14 total film and TV movie roles behind him. This is a very snappy film, with lots of quick lines and retorts. In the theater, I would have missed some of this. But on DVD, I can use subtitles and/or stop and playback for parts that I missed.
Finney shows his talents for imitation and impersonation as well. His "Boggie-esque" quips are quite funny. Some reviewers dubbed this film an "oddity" or a "curiosity." I'm not sure what that means. If it's because comedy is mixed with crime well we have plenty of that dating back to the 1930s. The series of "Thin Man" movies with William Power and Myrna Loy helped make the comedy-crime mix very popular.
Others have commented on the plot and cast. I will add only that this film is spot on for intrigue, and it has some very good twists. A casual viewer could miss a lot of what's going on. The roles are all quite good. Finney's Eddie Ginley is a very likable chap. Finney is one of those very talented people in the entertainment field who have played some great roles, but who have not struck gold spelled with an "O."
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