With the help of a talking freeway billboard, a "wacky weatherman" tries to win the heart of an English newspaper reporter, who is struggling to make sense of the strange world of early-90s Los Angeles.
Richard E. Grant
Juliet Forrest is convinced that the reported death of her father in a mountain car crash was no accident. Her father was a prominent cheese scientist working on a secret recipe. To prove it was murder, she enlists the services of private eye Rigby Reardon. He finds a slip of paper containing a list of people who are "The Friends and Enemies of Carlotta." Searching for answers, Rigby encounters assorted low-lifes: dangerous men and women who were the hallmarks of the classic detective movies of the 40's and 50's. Filming in black and white allows scenes from old movies to be cut into this film. It is through this process that Rigby's assistant is none other than Philip Marlowe himself. Written by
Tony Fontana <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Ed. by Peter Victor <email@example.com>
First of two back-to-back genre spoofs for both actor Steve Martin and director Carl Reiner. This picture parodied film noir and detective films mostly from the 1940s whilst their immediate next movie, The Man with Two Brains (1983), spoofed science fiction and horror films. Both pictures had longish titles which were both five words long. See more »
The newspaper in the opening scene has a large headline saying "Dodgers Lose Again." But that wouldn't have been a big deal for a Los Angeles paper in the 1940s -- the Dodgers didn't move there from Brooklyn until 1958. See more »
After the Cast there comes the dedication: Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid was Edith Head's final film. To her, and to all the brilliant technical and creative people who worked on the films of the 1940's and 1950's, this motion picture is affectionately dedicated. See more »
DMDWP is a black and white film noir comedy that uses footage from real film noirs from the 40s and 50s and inter cuts them with the plot to make it appears that Steve Martin is really talking to/acting with the likes of Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, James Cagney etc. The effect is almost seamless but for a movie made in 1982 it's quite impressive.
Martin plays the wonderfully named Rigby Reardon, a typical, gritty private eye who narrates the story with sarcastic observation and gets involved in the usual femme fatal plot and a conspiracy surround the death of a cheese maker. Yes, it's nonsense, and towards the end it becomes a bit hard to follow and the silliness gets out of control. But it's all played straight and for most of the film you could believe you were actually watching a classic film noir.
Steve Martin should have done more of these movies. Rigby Reardon was a great character and could have lasted for a few more movies. The humor is frequently hilarious and he certainly retains a lot of the integrity he has lost in recent years since he went the way of Eddie Murphy and sold himself out to family audiences. Either way, I say you should give this movie a go if you're a fan of his older work.
The DVD is sadly in non-anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen with Dolby 2.0 surround. It still looks quite good for a black and white film and the sound has that limited sound space effect to it to make it fit in with the older footage. A Dolby 5.1 remix would have been totally unnecessary. Some boring extras (trailer, cast bios) are included.
15 of 17 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?