The Cheap Detective (1978) Poster


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The movie was titled 'The Cheap Detective', according to writer 'Neil Simon', "Because the detective in those old films never got paid! Who paid Humphrey Bogart for finding all those crooks in The Maltese Falcon (1941)? He arrested Mary Astor and sent her and everyone else to gaol. Who paid him?... The character is always involved in danger not for the bucks but because it's his lifestyle".
This picture was inspired by the box-office success of Neil Simon's Murder by Death (1976) which also starred Peter Falk as Sam Diamond, a spoof of Humphrey Bogart' Sam Spade. However, Falk's character in this movie, is still a Bogart parody, it also being a spoof of Bogart's Rick Blaine from Casablanca (1942) as well as being an extension of both the Sam Spade character as well as Falk's Columbo TV persona as well.
Cast returning in this movie from Murder by Death (1976) included Peter Falk, Eileen Brennan, James Coco, and James Cromwell. The pictures also share the same writer Neil Simon, director Robert Moore, producer Ray Stark and quite a number of other crew personnel.
The name of the bar, Nix Place, is a spoof of the bar Rick's Place from Casablanca (1942). Neil Simon claimed that Warner Bros. had saved light fixtures and decorations from Humphrey Bogart's club in Casablanca (1942), allowing them to be reused as props for Charles B. Pierce's Nix Place set. He also claimed some of the original waiters were reused as well.
Writer Neil Simon remained on the set to take care of re-writes, as he had done with this picture's predecessor, Murder by Death (1976).
The movie's characters spoofs are as follows: Ann-Margret's Jezebel Dezire is a spoof of Lauren Bacall's Marie 'Slim' Browning from To Have and Have Not (1944); Madeline Kahn's Mrs Montenegro is a spoof of Mary Astor's Brigid O'Shaughnessy in The Maltese Falcon (1941); John Houseman's Jasper Blubber is a spoof of Sydney Greenstreet's Kasper Gutman ("The Fat Man") in The Maltese Falcon (1941); Dom DeLuise's Pepe Damascus is a spoof of Peter Lorre; Fernando Lamas' Paul DuChard is a spoof of Paul Henreid's Victor Laszlo from Casablanca (1942); Paul Williams' Boy is a spoof of Elisha Cook Jr.; Scatman Crothers' pianist Tinker is a spoof of Dooley Wilson's piano player Sam from Casablanca (1942); Louise Fletcher's Marlene DuChard is a spoof of Ingrid Bergman's Ilsa Lund from Casablanca (1942) whilst Peter Falk's Lou Peckinpaugh is an amalgam spoof of two Humphrey Bogart characters, Sam Spade from The Maltese Falcon (1941) and Rick Blaine from Casablanca (1942) and an extension of his Sam Diamond character from Murder by Death (1976) and his Columbo character from television.
The farewell scene between Lou Peckinpaugh (Peter Falk and Marlene DuChard (Louise Fletcher) was shot on the same sound stage that was used for the Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman farewell in Casablanca (1942).
Madeline Kahn's character uses 16 names: Denise Manderley, Wanda Coleman, Gilda Dabney, Chloe LaMarr, Alma Chalmers, Alma Palmers, Vivian Purcell, Carmen Montenegro, Diane Glucksman, Mrs. Danvers, Natasha Ublenskaya, Sophie DeVega, Mary Jones, Lady Edwina Morgan St. Paul, Norma Shearer, and Barbara Stanwyck. The name used most is Mrs. Montenegro.
In order to cash-in on the box-office success of this film's predecessor Murder by Death (1976) (which was a parody of locked room mystery thrillers), some movie posters for this follow up (which is different, a spoof of 1940s private eye, film noir and foreign intrigue thrillers) were designed with cartoons of fifteen characters (evoking a cast of suspects) situated under a giant headline that read "Who Dunnit?".
The picture was completely shot on studio sound stages.
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John Houseman replaced George Kirby to play Jasper Blubber.
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Phil Silvers:  As Hoppy, a cab driver.
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