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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 16,027 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 studio number breakdown of the nineteen movies that this film used for footage to edit into this movie from was as follows: both Warner Brothers and Universal Pictures provided five films, four were used from MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer), Paramount Pictures and RKO Radio Pictures both supplied two titles each and one came from Columbia Pictures. No titles were sourced from the United Artists or 20th Century Fox studios, the only two majors from the eight Golden Age of Hollywood movie studios not to have a film used for this picture. See more »


Rolodex card file wasn't marketed until 1958, yet appears on a desk in scene set in Forties. See more »


Captain Carlos Rodriguez: Senor Reardon, when will you be leaving Carlotta?
Rigby Reardon: Next plane out, Carlos.
Captain Carlos Rodriguez: Aha! That give me four hours to wash and press your pajamas.
Rigby Reardon: No thanks, Carlos. I don't think I'll be needing my pajamas anymore.
Captain Carlos Rodriguez: What a guy!
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »


Spoofs Dead Reckoning (1947) 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

So they don't
20 July 2001 | by (Belfast, Northern Ireland) – See all my reviews

An incredible achievement. My mind boggles at the amount of thought, time and effort that must have gone into this superb film. The plot is brilliantly and hilariously convoluted, with screen legends from the 1940s making appearances in amazingly edited scenes, and Steve Martin's trademark absurd humour is present almost all the way. Steve and Rachel Ward have remarkable chemistry, and each of their performances are highly impressive. If it weren't for the bundles of humour employed, one would almost think at times that this actually is a film noir from the 1940s, so legitimate and believable is the 'feel' or the atmosphere of the film.

I cannot believe that some people who commented on this film have said that the plot is merely an excuse to hang old movie clips onto, and not much use at all; and the person who claims that Steve Martin overacts in this movie mustn't realise that this is regarded as one of Steve's more restrained, deadpan comedic performances (the 'cleaning woman!' device turns out to be an important part of the plot and also seems to be a way of using the strangling scene that is taken from the Bette Davis movie - it is also a chance for Steve to get in a very tiny element of his 'wild and crazy guy' persona, which he substituted with a more suitable [for parody] 'straight' performance).

A rousing and side-splittingly funny success - they don't make 'em like this anymore!

50 of 54 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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