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The Cheap Detective (1978)

San Francisco, 1940, detectives, dames, documents, Nazis, and a treasure.




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Cast overview, first billed only:


Lou Peckinpaugh, the Cheap detective has entered a world that is half Casablanca and half Maltese Falcon. A parody of Bogart's films in which Lou goes through a series of scenes from the two movies trying to keep ahead of the police who think he killed his partner and find the black bird. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He knows every cheap trick, cheap joke, cheap shot and cheap dame in the book. See more »


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

23 June 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Neil Simon's The Cheap Detective  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,000,000, 25 June 1978, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$28,221,552, 31 December 1978
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


(Metrocolor) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Second of three Neil Simon-written films featuring James Coco. The others are Murder by Death (1976) and Only When I Laugh (1981), the latter being the only one based on one of Simon's plays. Coco also appeared in a stage version of Simon's Last of the Red Hot Lovers (1972) on Broadway. See more »


When Lou and Marlene are talking in his apartment, her scarf keeps changing position from surrounding her face to trailing down the back of her head. See more »


Lou Peckinpaugh: Don't call me for three days, and when you do, use your real name. By the way, what is it?
Mrs. Montenegro: Mary Jones. I swear it, Lou.
Lou Peckinpaugh: Well, change it. It sounds phony.
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Crazy Credits

The opening credits are written in chalk on a sidewalk, a brick wall, a tambourine, a dock piling, and the back of an overcoat. See more »


Referenced in Lørdagshjørnet: Gene Wilder (1978) See more »


Bye Bye Blackbird
Music by Ray Henderson
Played when Peckinpaugh is talking to Damascus at the restaurant
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User Reviews

wildly funny, not intended as a think piece
23 July 2006 | by See all my reviews

Hilarious movie! "ccthemovieman" does it a disservice. Freewheeling and full of clever plays-on-words humor. I've watched it at least five times and have recommended it to many friends who thanked me for turning them on to it. And I would call the "sexual humor" really tame; this is not a raunchy or sleazy movie by any means.

Falk is almost channeling Bogart his performance is that spot on. John Housman's "Sidney Greenstreet" is hilarious. Great performances by Kahn and Stockard Channing as well. If you like this movie, you would probably also like "Rustler's Rhapsody", another spoof that didn't get a lot of publicity when it was released.

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