7.0/10
1,643
31 user 16 critic

The Late Show (1977)

A grumpy semi-retired private investigator partners with a quirky female client to catch the people who murdered his partner.

Director:

Writer:

Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Adventure | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

When his apartment building is torn down, a retired lifelong New Yorker goes on a cross country odyssey with his beloved cat Tonto.

Director: Paul Mazursky
Stars: Art Carney, Ellen Burstyn, René Enríquez
Bad Company (1972)
Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A god-fearing Ohio boy dodging the Civil War draft arrives in Jefferson City where he joins up with a hardscrabble group of like runaways heading west.

Director: Robert Benton
Stars: Jeff Bridges, Barry Brown, Jim Davis
Night Moves (1975)
Crime | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Los Angeles private detective Harry Moseby is hired by a client to find her runaway teenage daughter and he stumbles upon a case of murder and artifact smuggling.

Director: Arthur Penn
Stars: Gene Hackman, Jennifer Warren, Edward Binns
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Three friends who are living on the dole decide to organize a bank robbery.

Director: Martin Brest
Stars: George Burns, Art Carney, Lee Strasberg
Boomerang! (1947)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

The true story of a prosecutor's fight to prove the innocence of a man accused of a notorious murder.

Director: Elia Kazan
Stars: Dana Andrews, Jane Wyatt, Lee J. Cobb
Tomorrow (1972)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A lonely farmer takes in a pregnant woman and looks after her. After she gives birth, tragedy strikes.

Director: Joseph Anthony
Stars: Robert Duvall, Olga Bellin, Sudie Bond
Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

One dark summer night, Francesca Cunningham, a once world famed pianist, escapes from her hospital room and tries to commit suicide by jumping off a local bridge. She is rescued and taken ... See full summary »

Director: Compton Bennett
Stars: James Mason, Ann Todd, Herbert Lom
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A year after Sheila is killed in a hit-and-run, her multi-millionaire husband invites a group of friends to spend a week on his yacht playing a scavenger hunt-style mystery game. The game turns out to be all too real and all too deadly.

Director: Herbert Ross
Stars: Richard Benjamin, James Coburn, James Mason
Blume in Love (1973)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Lawyer Stephen Blume, specialized in divorces, lives a paradoxical situation when, having his own marriage break up, is still in love with his ex-wife.

Director: Paul Mazursky
Stars: George Segal, Susan Anspach, Kris Kristofferson
Certificate: Passed Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

Eddie sells his song to a Broadway producer and also lands a job dancing in the musical. He sends for his dance partner-fiancée Molly who brings her younger sister Pat. Upon seeing Molly ... See full summary »

Director: S. Sylvan Simon
Stars: Lana Turner, Joan Blondell, George Murphy
Adventure | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

To treat his friend's cocaine induced delusions, Watson lures Sherlock Holmes to Sigmund Freud.

Director: Herbert Ross
Stars: Alan Arkin, Vanessa Redgrave, Robert Duvall
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Ira Wells
...
Margo Sterling
...
Charlie Hatter
...
Ron Birdwell
...
Laura Birdwell
...
Jeff Lamar
Ruth Nelson ...
Mrs. Schmidt
John Davey ...
Sergeant Dayton
...
Harry Regan
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ethel Reschke
Edit

Storyline

Ira Wells is an aged retired Los Angeles based private investigator, who is slightly overweight, needs to wear a hearing aid, has a bum leg and an ulcer-laden stomach, and can only afford to rent a room in a house as a place to live. He decides to come out of retirement when a still active contemporary, Harry Regan, shows up on his doorstep with a bullet wound to the gut, from which he eventually dies. Ira wants to find out who killed Harry. Ira is contacted by another long-time acquaintance, Charlie Hatter, a self-proclaimed loser and Hollywood hack, about Harry's last case, something about which probably led to Harry's death. Harry's client was Margo Sterling, a former client of Charlie's who is a flaky penniless new-ageist actress/agent/dress maker. She hired Harry to retrieve her missing cat, Winston, who is still being held ransom by an acquaintance named Brian Hemphill. Ira learns from Margo that Brian hired her to transport goods for him, she unconcerned that those goods ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The nicest movie you'll ever see about murder and blackmail. [Lobby Card] See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

4 July 1977 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

La última investigación  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Robert Benton originally wrote the screenplay for this picture during the mid 1970s. See more »

Goofs

The first close-up of Charlie's white shoes with blood on them also shows Ira's black shoes right next to him, but Ira doesn't walk up to help Charlie until the following shot. See more »

Quotes

[Ira's talking to Margo]
Ira: Back in the Forties, this town was crawlin' with dollies like you. Good-lookin' coquettes tryin' their damnedest to act tough as hell. I got news for you: they did it better back then. This town doesn't change - they just push the names around. Same dames... screwin' up their lives just the same way.
See more »

Connections

References Gone with the Wind (1939) See more »

Soundtracks

What Was
Lyrics by Stephen Lehner
Music by Kenneth Wannberg (as Ken Wannberg)
Sung by Bev Kelly
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

One of my top ten overlooked classics
7 July 2000 | by (San Francisco, California) – See all my reviews

Here's a wonderful, offbeat little film directed by Robert Benton, who directed Kramer vs. Kramer, and Nobody's Fool. He also wrote the screenplay, which received an Oscar nomination, so I guess it wasn't ignored entirely when it came out. Critics often dismiss The Late Show with a tart "Well, it's no Chinatown" (which came out three years earlier). That's too bad because it's a sly, engaging, funny detective thriller in its own right that manages to rise above the constraints of the genre and reach some memorable emotional heights along the way.

Art Carney plays Ira Welles, an over-the-hill private eye with a hearing aid, a bad leg, and a bleeding ulcer. It's almost as if Benton said: "hey, what would happen if Phillip Marlowe were still alive and kicking and living in the seedy part of Los Angeles in the mid-'70s?" Making the hero a senior citizen makes even more sense in the noir context than having him be the usual tough guy in the peak of health.

Things start off with a bang, or at least a whimper, when his partner Harry shows up with a bullet hole in his stomach (a la Maltese Falcon). Ira shows us what he's all about right away when tells his soon to be dead colleague: "Sorry you're going off, pal. You've been real good company." Ira is a throwback who spends serious amounts of time at the racetrack, lives in a boarding house, gets everywhere by bus (in LA?), calls women "Dolly," and values notions of honor and loyalty to one's partner above all else.

This world runs smack against the more permissive, loopy, go with-the-flow attitudes of the late-Sixties, early-Seventies, in the guise of Margo (Lily Tomlin). Margo is a laconic blatherskite who burns incense, lives in a room full of batik and macramé, and listens to meditation tapes. She goes to Ira for help when her cat Winston is kidnapped by a disgruntled fence whom she neglected to pay. Ira refuses to get involved with such nonsense until he realizes the catnapper also had something to with the death of his partner.

This kicks off an appropriately convoluted noir plot of epic complexity that involves murderous fences, infidelity, blackmail, and a steadily mounting body count. But the plot takes a backseat to the subtly changing, often touching relationship between the two lead characters. These two seemingly polar opposites actually have a lot in common.

They are both misfits who have constructed elaborate lies that they inhabit. Ira tells Margo that he's always been a loner, yet he spends his evenings playing canasta with his landlady, risks his life to find his partner's killer, and finds himself slowly warming up to Margo despite her air of flaky desperation. Margo flits from one identity to the next. One minute she's an actress, the next a dress designer, and the next a talent agent. In reality, she's mule for a two-bit fence and has to deal grass on the side to make ends meet. "I only do it to get my shrink paid," she tells a disapproving Ira.

Art Carney and Lily Tomlin play the push-me-pull-you dynamic between the two for all they're worth. Carney has a terrific moment when he collapses in pain due to ulcer pain and tells Margo not to take him to the hospital. In Tomlin's hands, Margo is one of the great screen neurotics, yet she's much savvier and sharper than she seems at first, and is able to finally rise to face the challenge of some pretty hairy situations. The Late Show is a real gem from the last truly great decade of American movies.


30 of 31 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?