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The Cheap Detective (1978)

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




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1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ezra Dezire
Pepe Damascus
Sgt. Rizzuto


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  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


(Metrocolor) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


'Sam Diamond' is a combination of Dashiell Hammett's character, 'Sam Spade', and "Richard Diamond', played by Dick Powell on radio and TV. See more »


The movie takes place in 1940, yet the song sung in the nightclub is 'La Vie En Rose' which was not written until 1946. See more »


Jezebel Dezire: Why don't you pull up a sofa and sit down?
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: In 1939, the ominous grey clouds of war broke loose over Western Europe and rained down havoc and destruction . . . followed by humidity and gradual clearing.

In the Philippines, a small band of native guerrillas prepared secretly for the inevitable conflict that would soon engulf the East . . . This has nothing to do with our story.

Our story is about crime. Not the bad crime we face each day on our streets . . . but the good crime we came to know and love in a time when the world was innocent ... when murder wasn't something you were ashamed of ... when a bullet hole wasn't something disgusting . . . and when a man could betray a woman without feeling guilty. Our story starts in a fictitious city called San Francisco ... seven thousand miles away from Casablanca. See more »


Spoofs The Big Sleep (1946) See more »


Bye Bye Blackbird
Music by Ray Henderson
Played when Peckinpaugh is talking to Damascus at the restaurant
See more »

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User Reviews

Smart humor. Almost too smart.
4 May 2004 | by (The San Francisco Bay Area) – See all my reviews

"The Cheap Detective," as others have observed, is a sendup of two of Bogart's most famous films. The film's opening sequence sets the stage of the humor styleings which acts as both a setup and warning for the casual viewer.

The humor is smart, but almost too clever for its own good. It's funny, but you almost have to be a Neil Simon fan (or at least in tune with his writing style) to really get the gags. Not entirely true, because if you keep an open mind, and understand all or most of the references, you should have a good time :-)

Otherwise the film might go over your head, or rather you'll understand that there's supposed to be a joke at a certain moment, but won't get the entire gist because you might be unfamiliar with the material being referenced. Hence the reason why I called the film almost too clever for its own good.

It helps to be familiar with both "Casablanca" and "The Maltese Falcon" to really get all of the "in-stuff" within Simon's film. Even so there's a good amount of regular humor that should help boost the appeal to those already in the know, and at the same time salvage a film for those not.

And yeah, Anne Margaret never looked better :-)

A fairly good watch, but not for everyone.

20 of 29 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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