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
The nicest movie you'll ever see about murder and blackmail. [Lobby Card]
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Did You Know?
The movie's screenplay by Robert Benton
was actually Academy Award-nominated for the Best Original Screenplay in 1977 but did not win, losing to Woody Allen
for Annie Hall
(1977). The nomination was Benton's second - and having never won, was his last Oscar nom before he won two Oscars for Kramer vs. Kramer
(1979) two years later. See more
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
Listen, doll, let's get one thing straight. I'm a loner. I always have been a loner. I was a loner when I was a kid. I was a loner when I was married. Probably why we broke up. I'm by myself now because I like it that way. Nothing personal, but I don't like to talk about it. There's too damn much talk in the world as it is.
References The Thin Man
Lyrics by Stephen Lehner
Music by Kenneth Wannberg
(as Ken Wannberg)
Sung by Bev Kelly See more