The Singing Detective (2003)

R  |   |  Comedy, Crime, Musical  |  14 November 2003 (UK)
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Ratings: 5.6/10 from 6,966 users   Metascore: 45/100
Reviews: 78 user | 66 critic | 33 from

From his hospital bed, a writer suffering from a skin disease hallucinates musical numbers and paranoid plots.



(screenplay), (television series)
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1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Nicola / Nina / Blonde (as Robin Wright Penn)
First Hood
Second Hood
Betty Dark / Hooker
Skin Specialist
Chief of Staff
Moonglow Bartender
Lily Knight ...
Woman Physiotherapist
Visiting Japanese Doctor


"While hospitalized with an extreme case of psoriasis, novelist Dan Dark reworks his first book in his head. Feverish, paranoid and prone to musical outbreaks, he confuses himself with his protagonist, a detective investigating the murder of a prostitute in 1950s Los Angeles." Written by Mag-Helder Thélot

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


When it comes to murder, seduction and betrayal he wrote the book. Now he's living it!

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexual content, language and some violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

14 November 2003 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

El detective cantante  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$8,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$28,324 (USA) (24 October 2003)


$336,456 (USA) (30 January 2004)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


While Dan Dark is in Binney's office, he picks up a statue of a Maltese Falcon. See more »


The position of Dark's gun hand when he chases the goons into the street after they try to kill him in the nightclub. See more »


Dan Dark: So, what's the story? Who's the dame?
Mark Binney: How'd you know there's a dame?
Dan Dark: There's always a dame.
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the end credits we see Robert Downey Jr. perform the song "In My Dreams" See more »


References The Maltese Falcon (1941) See more »


My Special Angel
Written by Jimmy Duncan
Published by Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. (BMI)
Performed by Bobby Helms
Courtesy of MCA Records
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

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User Reviews

The Passion
2 February 2005 | by (Virginia Beach) – See all my reviews

Ten years ago Ang Lee made a terrific little movie. It had depth and resonance. Eight years later, some hack remade the movie in English, changing the Chinese family to a Mexican one. Using almost precisely the same script, it turned into a horrible, horrible little film. Soulless.

Now turn to this. The original "detective" was one of the best film projects in history. I have it on my list of films every living person should see. It is the only thing I have ever seen from TeeVee that is worth watching. Its construction is ineffable and deep: three realities, each of which co- creates the others.

Now shift to the mind of Mel Gibson, the fellow behind this project. He is incapable of understanding or even seeing depth, surely in projects like this. What he has done is take a story about stories and storytelling, about parallel interwoven realities, about the nature of creation, about the origin of invention in sex and pain...

... and replaced it with something that looks the same and has the same events, but which has all the nuance and life bleached out of it. Now, we have a completely understandable narrative about a man who imagines and remembers things. All is clear, all is simple.

This is the same man who at this same time was doing the same thing to a similarly rich and deep and inscrutable story, the one about Jesus.

This is a travesty, a pure travesty. I recommend the original, but not this.

Just as a side matter, the threads that tied the realities together in the original were the women. The redness of their hair mattered. A lot. There's a little tinkering here with red, not-red, but it is done clumsily, without intent.

Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.

66 of 107 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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