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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
Publicity for this picture explained the meaning of the film's title by quoting its definition from the American Dictionary of Slang which defined a GUMSHOE as "a hard, foot-slogging private eye". See more »
A Liverpool bingo caller of the 70's enlivens his dull life by taking on an old style private detective alter-ego. Complete with raincoat and accent!
This is one of my favourite cult movies and this might be a good chance to try and look inside my own mind and find out why. Leading with the negatives, this film has a few ideas, but not enough to make a full film out of them. If you feel that some of the scenes are padding (quite a lot actually) then you are right!
Finney fancies himself as a kind of Sam Spade let loose on a Liverpool of the 1970's (interesting to see it like it was in the 60's) and we enter the slightly seedy world of the working man's club. Something that those outside of the UK will find hard to grasp -- a kind of cheap private drinking hole meets low rent cabaret.
The real problem is that the thing is weakened by non of the parties (especially the lead) seeming to be taking the case seriously, which means that while he is in limited danger we are more yawning than sitting on the edge of our seats.
What makes it for me is the fast word play of Finney and the general irony of the script in going in to places that fashion says we shouldn't be going. It leads up to a giant feeling of so-what -- but I like to see movies that are a bit different and it always holds me in its strange faded and seedy grip. Maybe it has something to do with having been to these sorts of places myself.
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