Martin Blank is a professional assassin. He is sent on a mission to a small Detroit suburb, Grosse Pointe, and, by coincidence, his ten-year high school reunion party is taking place there at the same time.
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>
Rigby Reardon (Steve Martin) tells Lana Turner he left her sitting at a counter at Schwabs. Turner is rumored to have been discovered sitting at the counter in a Schwabs drugstore. See more »
When Rigby is talking on Juliet's phone to her sister Leona, the handset and coiled cord to the phone are from the 1960's-80's, and not the straight cloth-covered phone cords in use in the 1940's when the story is taking place. 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 »
This was a modern-day version of a 1940s narrative gangster film, also known as film noir, but with a different twist. Steve Martin, Rachel Ward and a few others actors are seen talking to many classic stars of the past as director Carl Reiner used clips of those films to fake conversations with the up-to-date real actors of this film . They made it appear that Alan Ladd, Barbara Stanwyck, Humphrey Bogart et al were actually talking to Martin.
Obviously, the more acquainted you are with those film noirs, the more fun this movie will be as you try to recognize what movie those clips came from. (The answers are shown in the ending credits.) That's the fun part of this movie.
The not-so-fun part is simply trying to figure how what is happening in the first place. The plot is not always easy to discern, and it's doubly difficult because of the constant "interruptions" with the classic film scene inserted in the story. You get so captivated watching those old stars that you lose track of the storyline.
That's a big reason I don't think this film ever caught on that much - the story is too convoluted, just too hard to follow.
Ward was great to watch and Martin was annoying after awhile. If Ward doesn't look like the embodiment of a 1940s film goddess, I don't know who does. That, and the razor sharp black-and-white picture with the real actors, is nice to see. But, Martin, who dominates the film, overdoes the stupid comments. I would like to have seen this film played a little straighter, like a real noir. It's a clever film but sometimes too clever for its own good.
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