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The Singing Detective (2003)

R  |   |  Comedy, Crime, Musical  |  14 November 2003 (UK)
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Ratings: 5.6/10 from 6,922 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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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?


The opening song was chosen by director Keith Gordon because he liked it so much in John Carpenter's Christine (1983), which he also starred in. See more »


When the First Hood and Second Hood are driving away in their vintage car in the 1940s, you can clearly see the reflection of a lit, modern, Los Angeles skyscraper in the window of the backseat. See more »


Second Hood: I'm sick of standing around here like a coupla dummies. Are we feds or aren't we?
First Hood: No. We're just a coupla hoods.
Second Hood: Shaddap!
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Featured in At the Movies: Episode #1.2 (2004) See more »


Mr. Sandman
Written by Pat Ballard
Published by Edwin H. Morris & Company (ASCAP), a Division of MPL Communications, Inc.
Performed by The Chordettes
Courtesy of Barnaby Records Inc.
By Arrangement with Celebrity Licensing Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

It's an offbeat film with style.
26 November 2003 | by (Columbus, Ohio) – See all my reviews

The 1984 'Singing Detective' miniseries had Michael Gambon as a misanthropic novelist confusing himself with his pulp-fiction noir detective. Although no one could approach Gambon's startling portrayal, no actor I see can match Robert Downey Jr.'s ability to bring back this character with his own demons to recreate hallucinations and '50's musicals in dreams lurid, colorful, and downright Freudian.

His debilitating skin and bone infection of extreme psoriasis have landed him in the hospital but provide him with the opportunity to dream about his choleric mother and tramp wife as well as place the hospital staff in cheesy '50's musicals.

In Keith Gordon's 'Singing Detective,' Downey brings his own life of addictions, which have truncated his career and left him dangerous to hire. He seems at home here as Dan Dark, emerging into the light of sanity by exorcizing his demons and dealing with the unreality of seductive nurse Katie Holmes attending to his skin and bone in reality and dream only as a writer could envision.

It's an offbeat film with style, similar to Woody Allen's lyrical 'Everyone Says I Love You' and Bjork's depressed 'Dancer in the Dark.' It's not quite as good as either but a charmer nonetheless.

14 of 20 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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