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>
The picture was predominantly shot on the sound stages of Culver City's Laird International Studios which had hosted a number of classic Old Hollywood movies on its lot, many from the era that this collage film homaged. Such pictures included Suspicion (1941) (which featured some of its footage in this film), Rebecca (1940), Spellbound (1945), Duel in the Sun (1946), and Gone with the Wind (1939). See more »
At one point Reardon references the Kinsey Report; the first volume was published in 1948, but the movie is set in 1946. See more »
I first saw this in the theater with my dad, at the age of 13, when it was first released - he was a huge fan of classic movies and usually suffered through the stuff he took me to. Not this one - we were both in hysterics, and I'd have to say I owe my huge love of classic Hollywood (and global) cinema to this film. CITIZEN KANE it may not be but no matter - I dug the humor and the atmosphere at the time, and even then was aware of how much work this must have been.
I still watch this one on occasion, and it is the rare comedy that has held up very well with the passage of time - critics at the time seemed to write it off as a stunt, but I've noted that at least a little reevaluation of DEAD MEN DON'T WEAR PLAID has occurred over the years. The performances - as both a spoof and a love-letter to film noir - are top notch, with Steve Martin at his best here. The dialog gets deep into Raymond Chandler/Dashiell Hammett hard-boiled private-eye stylishness, serving up gumshoe-with-dame clichés just juiced up enough to give Steve something to run with, while still offering an a solid story. The finale is magnificent, Martin and Carl Reiner jousting their way through an avalanche of every two-bit dime-store whodunnit game-over cliché to ever grace the big screen, cheap alibis falling like drunken angels across the naked city as the big heat descends... Or - ahem -something like that...
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