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Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982)

PG  |   |  Comedy, Crime, Mystery  |  21 May 1982 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 16,015 users  
Reviews: 103 user | 28 critic

Film noir parody with a detective uncovering a sinister plot. Characters from real noirs appear as scenes from various films are intercut.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
The Exterminator (archive footage)
Field Marshall VonKluck
Leona Hastings-Forrest (archive footage)
Kitty Collins (archive footage)
Swede Anderson (archive footage)
Phillip Marlowe (archive footage)
'Handsome' (in 'Suspicion') (archive footage)
F.X. Huberman (archive footage)
Monica Stillpond (archive footage)
Doris Davermont (archive footage)
Jimmi-Sue Altfeld (archive footage)
Altfeld (archive footage)


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 <>, Ed. by Peter Victor <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Laugh... or I'll blow your lips off!


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

21 May 1982 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dead Men Wear No Plaid  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$4,289,601 (USA) (21 May 1982)


$16,959,911 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The Universal Pictures logo seen at the start of this film, naturally, was not the current color one that was in use at the time of the early 1980s, but one of the old black-and-white Universal logos, from the period of the 1940s. See more »


After Rigby kills Field Marshall VonKluck, his body falls across the table. In the following scene, his body can be seen in the background and he is still breathing. See more »


Rigby Reardon: Would you like a puppy?
Puppy Secretary: I'd love a dog!
Rigby Reardon: And here's something for you
Duty Secretary: Thank you!... EEEWWWWWWWWWWWWW!
See more »

Crazy Credits

There is a spelling mistake with the Composer. In the credits at the beginning he is spelled: Miklos Rosza. In the credits after the end he is spelled correct: Miklos Rozsa. See more »


Edited from The Glass Key (1942) See more »


Dead Men's Bolero
Music by Miklós Rózsa (as Miklos Rozsa)
Lyrics by Steve Goodman
See more »

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User Reviews

Fun For Film Noir Buffs; Otherwise Convoluting
12 June 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

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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