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The Private Eyes (1980) Poster

Trivia

A sequel was planned which would have revolved around the private eyes' attempts to find and capture the wookalar.
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When Lord Morley's car drove into the lake, it sank into the mud and the stunt driver nearly drowned.
Don Knotts was stricken with mononucleosis during the production.
When the Shadow rolls a bomb toward the detectives in the secret passage, Dr. Tart says, "We must be near a bowling alley." He's right: there is indeed a bowling alley inside the Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina, where this movie was filmed.
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The Morley mansion is actually the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, a house which has appeared in many other films.
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The filmmakers had to insure the house for $400 million.
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The film was among a number of pictures, mostly comedies, made and released between the mid-1970s and mid-1980s, that revived the old dark house / mansion movie. These films include: The Spiral Staircase (1975), Neil Simon's Murder by Death (1976), The Cat and the Canary (1978), The Private Eyes (1980), House of the Long Shadows (1983), Kenny Everett's Bloodbath at the House of Death (1984), Clue (1985), and Haunted Honeymoon (1986).
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During the shoot a priceless book went missing from the library in the mansion and Tim Conway was accused of stealing it. In January of 1981, former security guard Robert Livingston Matters was tried and pleaded guilty to stealing 60 rare books from the 25,000 volume library. Tim Conway was called the key to the theft for bringing attention to the missing books. As an employee for the manor went to show him a rare book and realized it was missing, that's what spurred the investigation.
Most scenes were shot in sequential order.
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Sixth and final major star teaming of American comedy duo Don Knotts and Tim Conway in a cinema movie. The two would cameo later in Cannonball Run II (1984) and co-star in the animated tele-movie Hermie: A Common Caterpillar (2003), (their final collaboration). Their other movies include: Gus (1976), The Prize Fighter (1979), The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975) and it's sequel The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again (1979).
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The secret passages featured in the film actually exist in the Biltmore mansion. The only portion of the passage that was constructed is the rotating wall, and the owner of the house liked it so much that he decided to keep it.
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Peter Matz was the musical director on The Carol Burnett Show (1967) and agreed to compose the score for the film as a favor to Tim Conway.
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The scene in the dungeon was shot early on, but the negatives were damaged and the entire sequence had to be re-shot.
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The Wookalar was played by the production company's investment banker Bernard (Barney) Rosner.
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According to the book "Mind Warp!: The Fantastic True Story of Roger Corman's New World Pictures" by Christopher T. Koetting, this picture was New World's most successful film at box office under Corman's tenure.
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The name of the hairy monster in the film was a "Wookalar". It was defined as being manlike creature with a pig-like face and superhuman strength. Moreover, The character of the caped figure was billed in the credits as being "The Shadow".
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Shot in 30 days with a budget of $2.3 million.
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Don Knotts said on the audio-commentary that the script was written in about a couple of days.
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The film's animated opening sequence was designed in the style of the "Pink Panther" film franchise's opening cartoon credits.
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The oddball range of characters who represented the mansion's staff included a Nazi, a blonde, a butler, a gypsy, a samurai, and a hunchback.
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The note left with Hilda's body is the only one that actually ends with a rhyme.
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The characters of Inspector Winship (Don Knotts) and Dr. Tart (Tim Conway) were a parody of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson respectively. Winship wears the trademark Sherlock deerstalker hat but smokes a cigar instead of a pipe. Both however are detectives for an official law enforcement body whereas Holmes and Watson were both in the private sector. The Tart character is also a doctor like Watson.
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The name of the police force that the detectives worked for was "Scotland Yard".
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The newspaper on the day after the murder (just before the opening credits) is dated Thursday, May 23, 1940.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Body Count: 3. They include: Lady Morley, "Santa", and the skeleton in the torture chamber.
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During the credits, when introducing the actors and actresses, Trisha Noble's name comes up when the cartoon freezes on the hooded murderer. Trisha Noble's character ends up being the hooded murderer.
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At the beginning of the movie, Lord Morley says "All's well that ends satisfactorily," thus mixing up the phrase. This is a subtle clue that he is The Shadow, since The Shadow destroys his own rhymes by mixing up phrases.
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There are subtle hints that Phyllis is the killer. She refers to her inheritance as the "jackpot" and at one point is seen reading a book about beating the odds.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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