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|Index||107 reviews in total|
I don't think anyone who didn't live in the movies of the thirties and forties can fully appreciate the absolute genius of this movie. Carl Reiner combined with Steve Martin have woven scenes from the great old black and white movies into similar new scenes to make a coherent great new movie that is really funny. I liked the scenes where Rachel Ward dug the bullets out of Rigby with her teeth, mumbly peg style. And Rigby cleaning his gun in a sink full of soapy water. Plus a hundred quickies like when Rigby was adjusting Rachel Wards breasts because when she fainted, they shifted all out of whack. I have seen this movie several times and it just keeps getting better.
This is a great movie and a lot of good laughs. I love the characters and sassyness and the thrilling story. First I really believed it was from the 1940s - it's that real even though done in 1982. Very well shot and witty dialogues. Rachel Ward (as Juliet Forrest) is such a wonderful and beautiful woman - I really adore her. This movie can be viewed many times and never gets boring.
Picked this up in my local charity shop recently, although my decades-
old memory of it was somewhat underwhelming. But I'm nothing if not
fair. Maybe it's just that my critical faculties have improved with
age, because in damn near every respect - and I'm even prepared to cut
Rachel Ward some slack here - it's a cracker.
Another reviewer has compared it to 'Zelig', and in its case I'm not even going to go there because the latter's concept alone is tedious. This film always had far greater potential, because of how classic film noir conventions and dialogue now lend themselves so easily to lampooning.
Steve Martin was at the top of his game when he made this one - hopefully, my local charity shop receives a copy of 'The Man with Two Brains' anytime soon - and his timing and mugging is rotflmao flawless here. The film noir insertions are well-chosen, too, and integrated beautifully, cinematically. The hysterics of Babs Stanwyck and Joan Crawford; Bette Davis' toasted day-old bread scene; the follow-on from Edward Arnolds' 'Pick It Up!' are hilarious, of course, but as regards which gag is the best of the bunch, for me it's a toss-up between the sidekick Bogie sartorial tickings-off, and the climactic scene where Martin and Reiner look to assert their plot 'reveal rights', but ultimately settle for a seamless, breakneck-pace, collaborative effort .
Dustin Hoffman and Robin Williams might just have the edge on Martin in drag, though.
Watch it and weep...with laughter!
So before Roger Rabbit introduced cartoon characters into live filmed
footage, or mind you, Steve Oedekerk inserted himself into an old
Chinese kungfu flick in Kung Pow...there was this film.
It's really well made for its time, and not to be precious or anything but it does get a bit obvious after a while and the plot will sort of fade at times and the film seems a bit too happy with the new movie overlaid over old movie scheme and plays too self-indulgingly with that.
But Martin's recognizable humor is good as always here and he'll really give life to the film from time to time. "I want to kiss you with every lip on my face !..."
Rachel Ward, sublimely beautiful here, holds her role perfectly well too.
Not bad. But too obvious after a while.
Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid is the perfect introduction to
actor/writer/director/producer extraordinaire Carl Reiner. I had never
before seen anything Reiner had acted in or directed, so his 1982
feature was a brilliant introduction. The comedy starring Steve Martin,
Rachel Ward, and several famous faces from 1940's film noirs was a
brilliant homage/parody of the detective film genre. A detective trying
to solve his current case with the help of many top-notch detectives
from yesteryear intercut into this black and white film is a treat for
Juliet Forrest (Rachel Wood) is convinced that her father's death from an apparent vehicle crash was no accident. To prove her theory that her father was murdered, she enlists the help of a detective Rigby Reardon (Steve Martin). Reardon, however, is not the private eye Juliet thinks he is. He is unable to solve the case alone and enlists the help of his many famous friends. Mostly aided and mentored by Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart) himself, Reardon begins to piece together the many pieces of the puzzle while winding through 19 well-known films from the golden age of Hollywood. With the help of his mentor and many sidekicks, Reardon is able to uncover the sinister plot involving a member of the nazi party, Field Marshall VonKluck (Carl Reiner).
Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid was my first go with Carl Reiner, and I could not have been more pleased with the outcome. I am attempting to become more familiar with the spoof genre, and this film is a notable entry on many "best of" spoof lists. It was great to see the legendary Edith Head's name in the opening credits; it was then, in fact, that I knew this film was going to be a great time of visiting many of the film noir films that I love so much. It was wonderful to see this film dedicated to Edith and her memory, as well as the many others who have worked on classic cinema of the 40's and 50's, considering this would turn out to be Head's final film. The notion to intercut the scenes with classic scenes from noir films was comedic brilliance. It became a game to see how Reardon would make the scenes work within the context of his case, leaving the audience fully engaged throughout the entire film. Anytime you see a clip of one of your all-time favorite, and oft forgotten about films (The Lost Weekend) in a contemporary film, it is sure to bring some personal joy. Steve Martin was perfectly cast in the role of the bumbling, light-hearted yet well-meaning and determined detective. A laugh a minute, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid is one of those difficult to achieve comedies that one is able to watch again and again and still find extremely funny. What I wouldn't give for a cup of Reardon's famous java!
Before I go any further, "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid" has got to be one
of the greatest movie titles ever. I mean, we all agree on that, right?
It's brilliant, and instantly spells out what kind of movie you're in
for.I love that Steve Martin is playing the cynical P.I. yet he's
always getting shot; it's his signature silliness through deadpan
delivery. And he maintains an excellent banter with femme fatale Rachel
Ward (who, by the way, is unbelievably attractive) while bungling his
way through the case.
It's completely conventional until the third act, when Martin ships off to South American and the Nazis show up. But that swtch-up just folds in nicely with the film's overall sense of humor. With this arsenal of memorable dialogue and the well-tuned jokes, this thing's just a guaranteed win.
I love this movie.
Business is slow at Rigby Reardon (Steve Martin)'s private eye agency.
Juliet Forrest (Rachel Ward) wants him to investigate the accidental
death of her cheese scientist father. She suspects a giant conspiracy.
He gets shot and his clue is stolen. Juliet sucks out the bullet. Rigby
goes berserk at the mention of cleaning woman.
The addition of old film strips is lots of fun. The conflicting sense from the old clips and Steve Martin is a goldmine. It's mostly an one joke movie but Steve Martin keeps it fresh. It also helps to have a love for these old movies. The story does a feeling of randomness. The disconnected old clips serve mostly to have some fun with. In between, Martin deadpans some great gags.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This demented one-of-a-kind comedy works best if you've seen 4 or 5
noir/hard boiled detective movies. Because at that point you begin to
notice the plots become conflated and entangled. The gag is that with a
bit of thought you can splice 20 of them together and get something
pretty similar. The resulting mystery and detection results in a story
that doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but then lots of noirs don't
make much sense (The Big Sleep, Somewhere in the Night, Dark Passage).
For noir, the tone, the striking compositions and the moral code are
much more important.
Whoever pieced this together had a lot of fun with it. There's quite a range of different comedy to enjoy. Some of the funniest bits just involve the new footage (Martin's bleeding knees). Some of them are absurd/revisionist (Rachel Ward can hear Martin's voice-over narration) A whole lot of them involve the absurd plot lines introduced by the old footage, that then have to be integrated. Some running jokes are duds ("adjusting your breasts" Bogart and his ties). Others are awfully funny ("That's never gonna heal!") It also has some hysterical visuals (Martin's balletic dodge of Alan Ladd's bullet). Some of the patches are funny; Martin is constantly correcting people when they get his name wrong (because they're talking to other characters in other films) The two best comic moments involve a unique way to make coffee, and Martin's hopeless, post-rejection assessment of women. All of this is ten floors above the usual Adam Sandler dross.
If an academic ever gave this its due as the first instance of meta, or at least an example of intertextuality, it would have more respect. If you've seen it more than once, it's interesting to see why - not just plot points - but visuals have to be introduced, sometimes quite smoothly. i.e. Martin gets drugged and offers to put on his pajama top (over his suit) because it's needed to match the schmo he's doubling in the next vintage clip. Too funny. You don't need to think hard at all to enjoy this, but if you like thoughtful movies, this offers a bonus level to consider.
On the minus side, Reni Santoni is irritating and certifiably untalented. He doesn't deliver a single laugh.
As the storyline is neither here nor there, just your typical Raymond
Chandler type plot.
It's effectively a one man band, Steve Martin carries the entire film, with his usual schtick.
The cameos include such stars as Barbara Stanwyck, Alan Ladd, Welshnan Ray Milland, Humphrey Boghart,Cary Grant,Burt Lancaster & many more, Top marks for the editing it's quite seamless.
This was a great idea for a movie - just don't expect a lot from the thoroughly B Movie storyline, this was made purely for the Cameos and as such is pretty good
***1/2 out of *****
Even though this movie is not that great, I have watched it several
times because it represents one of my favorite kinds of humor, that of
taking existing film or sound clips and piecing them together to make
something new. I have loved this sort of thing ever since I watched
Fractured Flickers as a kid. Unfortunately, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid
isn't nearly as funny as Fractured Flickers. That's because it doesn't
set out to "fracture" the clips by completely changing their meaning,
but uses them with more or less the same connotation that they had
originally, only with Steve Martin added. A more typically outrageous
comedy exercise would have used these film noir clips to tell a story
that had nothing to do with film noir, like making all the characters
businesspeople or something equally unglamorous. This film is more
subtle, in particular making great use of the actors' facial
expressions and reactions to make them seem to interact with Martin in
a very realistic way. The use of the verbal component is less inspired.
(A clip of James Cagney saying "No, no, Ma, listen to me," is preceded
by Martin saying, "Say something like, 'No, no, Ma, listen to me.'" Not
exactly brilliant.) It is all technically adept, but the result is more
clever than funny.
I think my favorite scene is the one where Martin offers the cantankerous Edward Arnold a puppy and then takes it away ("You don't deserve a puppy").
Of the 25 old-time movie stars listed in the end credits (including seven minor credits), 16 were still alive at the time this film was made, counting Ingrid Bergman, who died the year of release. Today, only one is still alive (Kirk Douglas).
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