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

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

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Ira Wells
...
Margo Sterling
...
Charlie Hatter
...
Ron Birdwell
...
Laura Birdwell
...
Lamar
Ruth Nelson ...
Mrs. Schmidt
John Davey ...
Sergeant Dayton
...
Harry Regan
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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

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Taglines:

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


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

4 July 1977 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

La última investigación  »

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1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of a number of 1970s spoofs of film noir and hard-boiled detective films of the 1940s from the likes of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, some of which starred Humphrey Bogart, who was the main target of the parodies. The films included Murder by Death (1976) and The Cheap Detective (1978), both from Neil Simon, Peeper (1976), The Long Goodbye (1973), Woody Allen's Play It Again, Sam (1972), and The Man with Bogart's Face (1980). 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

Ron Birdwell: Let's just cut to the chase, huh, Pop?
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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
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User Reviews

An excellent detective story.
22 August 1999 | by (Madison, Wi) – See all my reviews

This is a great movie. It's such a remarkable throwback to 40s noir and detective films. Art Carney's Ira Wells adds a kind of post modern twist to the genre as he is an aging detective, not as hard boiled as he used to be. One thing that's neat about this film is the way that Ira and his contacts talk to each other. Benton resurrects the distinctive lingo of The Big Sleep and The Maltese Falcon within this interesting group of underworld entangled characters. I've seen a lot of other flicks that try to do the same thing, but this one makes it much more believable and doesn't play it for comic effect. Similar to the way Miller's Crossing draws you into its world with dialogue (among other things), so too does this film. Lily Tomlin also teams up well with Carney as his flighty new partner in private investigation. This film is a genuine treat for fans of Spade or Marlowe movies.


11 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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