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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
The cheap production standards of the 50s were an attempt to mass produce films the way you would would mass produce shoes. The 60s was an experimental era the same way the children of the 60s were experimenting with everything they could get their hands on.
By the 70s films had become more contemplative. The folks behind this little gem decided it was time somebody wrote a script that captured the very essence of the film noires from the 40s.
Notice I emphasized the script first, because the rest seems almost an afterthought. Make no mistake. Finney is brilliant as the protagonist comic who wants to be a shamus, a gumshoe, but without that magical script there would be no movie.
The script is brilliant. You could turn the picture off and simply listen to the soundtrack and not miss much. ITS THAT GOOD.
One scene in particular where Eddie has to seduce an office girl to get an address seems a riff off Bogey in BIG SLEEP. But with better and faster dialog.
The fact that even the IMDb tag for the film says "comedy" -- WHICH IT WAS NOT -- tells you how lost this gem is in the annals of film.
Whitelaw is great. Janice Rule steals her few scenes.
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