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The Singing Detective
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The Singing Detective (2003) More at IMDbPro »

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The Singing Detective -- Languishing in a hospital room with an immobilizing condition, Dark has lost himself in the fictional world of his alter ego, a hardboiled detective and dance-band singer living in 1950s Los Angeles.
The Singing Detective -- From his hospital bed, a writer suffering from a skin disease hallucinates musical numbers and paranoid plots.


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Dennis Potter (screenplay)
Dennis Potter (television series)
View company contact information for The Singing Detective on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
14 November 2003 (UK) See more »
When it comes to murder, seduction and betrayal he wrote the book. Now he's living it!
From his hospital bed, a writer suffering from a skin disease hallucinates musical numbers and paranoid plots. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
1 win & 3 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Not perfect but interesting at times See more (78 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Robert Downey Jr. ... Dan Dark

Robin Wright ... Nicola / Nina / Blonde (as Robin Wright Penn)

Mel Gibson ... Dr. Gibbon

Jeremy Northam ... Mark Binney

Katie Holmes ... Nurse Mills

Adrien Brody ... First Hood

Jon Polito ... Second Hood

Carla Gugino ... Betty Dark / Hooker

Saul Rubinek ... Skin Specialist

Alfre Woodard ... Chief of Staff

Amy Aquino ... Nurse Nozhki

David Dorfman ... Young Dan Dark

Eddie Jones ... Moonglow Bartender
Lily Knight ... Woman Physiotherapist

Clyde Kusatsu ... Visiting Japanese Doctor

Earl Poitier ... Orderly (as Earl C. Poitier)

Don Fischer ... Intern

Andy Umberger ... Mr. Dark

David Denman ... Soldier with Betty Dark

Alec Puro ... Dark's Drummer
Renn Hawkey ... Dark's Bass Player
Bryan Law ... Dark's Guitar Player
Carla Anderson ... Dancer

Sandahl Bergman ... Dancer
Rita Bland ... Dancer
Billy Bonsangue ... Dancer
Sergio Carbajal ... Dancer
Leonard Crofoot ... Dancer
Erin Crouch ... Dancer

Kiva Dawson ... Dancer

Richard Dorton ... Dancer
Brenda Mae Hamilton ... Dancer (as Brenda Hamilton)
Gordon Hart ... Dancer
Famisha La Pree ... Dancer
Suzi Lonergan ... Dancer (as Suzie Lonergan)
Eva Mikita ... Dancer

Tara Nicole Hughes ... Dancer (as Tara Nicole)
Regan Patno ... Dancer

Randi Pareira ... Dancer
Sandra Plazinic ... Dancer

Sheldon Robins ... Dancer

DeAnna Kane ... Dancer (as DeAnna Steele)
Tasha Tae ... Dancer
Elle Taylor ... Dancer

Delila Vallot ... Dancer (as Jessica Vallot)
Dee Dee Weathers ... Dancer

Spice Williams-Crosby ... Dancer (as Spice Williams)
Darrel W. Wright ... Dancer (as Darrel Wright)
Dani Wylie ... Dancer
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Rusty Nelson ... Bus Rider (uncredited)

Directed by
Keith Gordon 
Writing credits
Dennis Potter (screenplay)

Dennis Potter (television series)

Produced by
Bruce Davey .... producer
Mel Gibson .... producer
Steven Haft .... producer
Kevin Lake .... associate producer
Jane Potter .... co-producer
Robert Potter .... co-producer
Sarah Potter .... co-producer
Stan Wlodkowski .... executive producer
Cinematography by
Tom Richmond (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Jeff Wishengrad 
Casting by
Denise Chamian 
Production Design by
Patricia Norris 
Set Decoration by
Jan K. Bergstrom 
Costume Design by
Patricia Norris 
Makeup Department
Linda Benavente-Notaro .... makeup effects: specialty costumer, Captive Audience (as Linda Venevente-Notaro)
Anita Brabec .... makeup artist
Patricia Budz .... hair stylist
Greg Cannom .... makeup effects creator
Cory Czekaj .... makeup effects technician: Captive Audience
David Dupuis .... makeup effects technician: Captive Audience
Consuelo Durán .... makeup effects: specialty costumer, Captive Audience (as Consuelo Duran)
Nathan Franson .... makeup effects technician: Captive Audience Productions
Gregory J. Goertzen .... makeup effects production assistant: Captive Audience (as Gregory Goertzen)
Claudia Hardy .... makeup effects: specialty costumer, Captive Audience
Tom Killeen .... makeup effects technician: Captive Audience
John Kim .... makeup effects technician: Captive Audience
Mary Kim .... production supervisor: Captive Audience
Vera Mitchell .... hair designer: Mr. Gibson
Mark Nieman .... makeup effects technician: Captive Audience
Alexei O'Brien .... makeup effects production assistant: Captive Audience (as Alexie O'Brien)
Michael Peterson .... lab makeup effects
Michael Peterson .... makeup effects technician: Captive Audience
Pam Phillips .... key makeup artist
Art Pimentel .... mold shop supervisor: Captive Audience (as Arthur Pimentel)
Stephen Robinette .... hair stylist (as Steve Robinette)
Sam Sainz .... makeup effects technician: Captive Audience
Brian Sipe .... lead character designer: Captive Audience (as Brian Spie)
Brian Sipe .... special makeup supervisor
Todd Tucker .... makeup assistant
Brian Van Dorn .... makeup effects technician: Captive Audience (as Brian Vandorn)
Keith VanderLaan .... makeup effects creator (as Keith Vanderlaan)
Toni-Ann Walker .... hair stylist supervisor
Patty York .... makeup supervisor
Production Management
Rajeev Malhotra .... post-production supervisor
Stan Wlodkowski .... unit production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Eric Heffron .... first assistant director
Michael J. Moore .... second assistant director (as Michael Moore)
David K. Riebel .... second second assistant director (as David Reibel)
Art Department
Curtis Allen .... set dresser
Larry Boyd .... set dresser
Alberto Mauricio Caballero .... labor foreman
Michael Casey .... leadman
Keith Cox .... construction coordinator
Paul Detlefson .... set dresser
Donna Ekins-Kapner .... set decorating coordinator (as Donna Ekins)
Maureen Farley .... property master
Dick Girod .... paint foreman (as Richard Girod)
Brenner Hugh Harris .... set dresser (as Brenner H. Harris)
Brent David Mannon .... props
Merdyce McClaran .... assistant property master
David C. Nute .... location foreman (as David Nute)
Maureen Osborne .... set dresser
C.J. Pyles .... on-set dresser
Jimmy Simeone .... set dresser
Robert Soles .... plaster foreman
Gustavo Traslavina .... construction foreman
Jim Wardell .... set dresser
Maureen Osborne .... buyer (uncredited)
Sound Department
David Franklin Bergad .... adr editor (as David Bergad)
Mark Berger .... sound re-recording mixer
Frank Canonica .... machine room recordist
Piotr Filipowski .... sound effects editor
Anna Geyer .... machine room recordist
Chris Gridley .... assistant sound editor (as Christopher Gridley)
Nathan Gunn .... assistant sound editor
Rick Kahn .... transfer room operator
James Lebrecht .... sound designer
Marnie Moore .... foley artist
Chris Navarro .... adr recordist
John Nutt .... supervising sound editor
Margie O'Malley .... foley artist
David Parker .... sound re-recording mixer
Rocky Quiroz .... cable person
Frank Rinella .... foley recordist
Earl Sampson .... boom person
Jonathan Schwartz .... apprentice sound editor
Daniel Sperry .... sound consultant: Dolby (as Dan Sperry)
Greg Steele .... adr mixer
Patti Tauscher .... foley editor
Viet Tran .... transfer room operator
Richard Van Dyke .... sound mixer
James Willetts .... assistant foley recordist
Special Effects by
Scott Blackwell .... special effects foreperson
Jeremy Hays .... special effects
David Peterson .... special effects coordinator
Visual Effects by
Helena Packer .... digital effects designer: WhoDoo EFX
Helena Packer .... lead digital artist: WhoDoo EFX
Mark Ritcheson .... digital effects producer: Whodoo VFX
Christine Anne Baur .... stunts (as Christine Bauer)
Simone Boisseree .... stunts (as Simone Boiseree)
Frankie 'G' Garbutt .... stunts
Jeff Habberstad .... stunt coordinator
Michael Hilow .... stunts
Chris Howell .... stunts
Paul Sklar .... stunts
Erik Stabenau .... stunts (as Erick Stabenau)
Clark Tucker .... stunts
Michael Hilow .... stunt double: Adrien Brody (uncredited)
Clark Tucker .... stunt double: Robert Downey Jr. (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Dana Lee Anderson .... company grip (as Dana Anderson)
Robert Anzures .... rigging grip
Jon Archibald .... rigging grip (as Jon C. Archibald)
Nick Arnds .... best boy grip
Eddie Avila .... second assistant camera
Randy Babchuck .... electrician
Robert Bennett .... camera operator (as Robert P. Bennett)
Geb Byers .... first assistant camera
John Chickanis .... electrician
Bill Daimant .... company grip (as William 'Billy' Diamant)
Kenny Davis .... dolly grip (as Kenneth Davis)
Joseph Dianda .... key grip
Alan B. Edwards .... rigging gaffer (as Alan Edwards)
Rob Forrest .... company grip (as Robert Forrest)
Alan Frazier .... best boy electric
Jimi Johnson .... video assist operator
Dan Jones .... camera loader
Ted Kennedy .... dolly grip
Dan Kneece .... Steadicam operator
Chris Lewis .... additional rigging gaffer
Shaun Madigan .... gaffer (as Shaun J. Madigan-McClelland)
Richard C. Miller .... first assistant camera (as Richard Miller)
Sacha Riviere .... second assistant camera
Lorey Sebastian .... still photographer
Casting Department
Jennifer Bender .... extras casting
Dena Berman .... casting associate
Barbara Harris .... adr voice casting
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Thomas S. Dawson .... costume supervisor (as Tom Dawson)
Anne Hartley .... key costumer (as Anne Winsor Hartley)
Kelly Lindquist .... key costumer
Mimi Maxmen .... assistant costume designer
Editorial Department
Imelda Betiong .... assistant editor
Bob Fredrickson .... color timer
Bryan McMahan .... colorist: mastering
Anthony Miller .... assistant editor
Melissa Remenarich .... first assistant editor (as Melissa Remenarich-Aperlo)
Music Department
Steven Saxton .... executive music producer
Michael Carey Schneider .... music coordinator
Ken Weiss .... music supervisor
Transportation Department
Jeff Couch .... transportation captain
Paulie DiCocco .... driver
Alan Kaminsky .... transportation co-captain
Brian Kay .... production van driver
A. Welch Lambeth .... transportation coordinator (as Welch Lambeth)
John McLaughlin .... driver: honeywagon
Matthew Talamantes .... driver
Harold L. Woods .... driver
Other crew
Jeremy Alter .... location manager
Tony Baldridge .... technical supervisor: Legend Films, Inc.
Larry Ballard .... medic
Andrew Blau .... production coordinator
Sara Boik .... production assistant (as Sarah Boik)
Steven Butensky .... production accountant
Vicki Christianson .... chief financial officer: Icon
Wil Collins .... production assistant
Atmadev Cornelius .... main title designer: MWP Editorial (as Ãtmadev Cornelius)
Marsha Craig .... studio teacher
Judy Dickerson .... dialect coach
Marc C. Geschwind .... extras coordinator
Penny Gillman .... payroll accountant (as Penny A. Gillman)
Paul Giorgi .... first assistant accountant
Jane Goldsmith .... script supervisor
Paul Green .... executive vice president: Icon
Casey Jordan .... production assistant
William Jorgenson .... assistant location manager
Jason Kennedy .... production assistant
Matt Lake .... production assistant
Bill Landrum .... choreographer
Jacqui Landrum .... choreographer (as Jacqui)
Jim Meenaghan .... business and legal affairs: Icon (as James Meenaghan)
Beth Unger Morrison .... script clearance
Dale Ottley .... production secretary
Jimmy Rich .... assistant: Mr. Downey
Monica Rust .... medic
Janell M. Sammelman .... production assistant
Traceigh Scottel .... assistant production coordinator
Noah Segan .... production assistant
Rebecca Snavely .... assistant: Mr. Gordon
Shawn Stevens .... craft service
Amy Tillman .... business and legal affairs: Icon
Lisa Tritico .... medical advisor
Carson Turner .... assistant location manager
Bonnie F. Watkins .... assistant: Mr. Davey
Hondo Weiss-Richmond .... production assistant
Marvin Williams .... production assistant (as Marvin J. Williams Jr.)
Michael J. Harker .... completion bond company representative (uncredited)
Rachel Griffin .... the filmmakers wish to thank the following for their assistance

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Rated R for strong sexual content, language and some violence
109 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Dustin Hoffman was initially attached to the role of Dan Dark when the film was in development.See more »
Continuity: 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:There are things in that book, doc, that are reaching out to grab me by the throat.
Dr. Gibbon:Why don't you let them?
See more »
Movie Connections:
In My DreamsSee more »


See more »
49 out of 61 people found the following review useful.
Not perfect but interesting at times, 10 November 2004
Author: Roland E. Zwick ( from United States

When 'The Singing Detective' was first produced as a TV mini series in 1986, it had a cumulative running time of well over 400 minutes. In this theatrical remake, the story has been pared down to no more than 106. I haven't seen the original - which enjoyed almost unprecedented critical acclaim in its time - so I have no idea how much of its quality has been lost in its currently truncated form. Hence, I will only be talking about this expurgated version, which stars Robert Downey Jr. and Mel Gibson, both in virtually unrecognizable roles. It should be noted that the screenplay is credited to the late Dennis Potter, the author of the original work, so we can assume that director Keith Gordon simply cut and pasted - though a less charitable person might say 'bowdlerized' - the much longer teleplay.

'The Singing Detective' tells the surrealistic tale of a writer of detective fictions who is suffering from a horrifically painful and disfiguring skin disease. As he lies in his hospital bed, his mind drifts back and forth between reality and fantasy, a hallucinatory condition brought on by fever and his own author's imagination. At times, Dan is acutely aware of his miserable situation in the here and now, with all its attendant physical and psychological agony. At other times he becomes lost in re-enactments of key scenes from his gumshoe fictions, memories of his miserable childhood, and elaborately staged song-and-dance numbers in which the characters lip-synch to musical standards from the '40's and '50's.

Because its style and subject matter are somewhat off-putting at first, 'The Singing Detective' takes a bit of getting used to, but eventually the themes and stylistic elements begin to come together and the film takes off. The irony is that, for all the razzle dazzle of its form and style, the film is at its most intriguing in its quieter, subtler moments when the embittered hospital patient is forced to confront the demons of his own tormented psyche. Dan Dark is a man who obviously prefers the world of fantasy to the cold harshness of an often excruciatingly painful reality. In addition to his debilitating disease, Dan is also haunted by a failed marriage and an often tragic childhood that he tries to 'correct' by entering the world of idealized fiction, one that he can manipulate and control. As the bombastic hospital psychologist figures out, Dan's illness is essentially psychosomatic in nature, one rooted in his inability to accept the realities of life in his own skin. In fact, Dan ultimately discovers that his disease is as much a product of his imagination as the scenarios and characters that make up his fiction. The illness becomes his way of not having to deal with his inner torments. Somewhat paradoxically, his writing becomes a form of therapy for him, helping him to deal with all that unresolved bitterness in his soul. The film is as much about psychological healing as it is about physical healing. Oddly enough, Dan's confrontations with his wife, psychologist and other hospital staff are actually far more interesting than what is happening in his rather puerile imagination. Still, towards the end of the film, when Dan starts to make some profound psychological breakthroughs, the fantasy scenes actually do begin to work and the complex structure pays off.

Downey does a fantastic job bringing Dan to life, conveying both the physical and emotional anguish the character is undergoing. Gibson has a great deal of fun playing the part of a paunchy, balding psychiatrist whose unorthodox methods wind up getting to the root of his belligerent patient's troubles. Robin Wright Penn, Jeremy Northam, Adrian Brody, Katie Homes and Alfre Woodard among others all deliver top notch supporting performances. And special praise must surely go to the large makeup staff whose work here is nothing short of miraculous.

'The Singing Detective' will probably not satisfy die-hard fans of the original lengthy mini series. But for the rest of us who have seen no other version than this one, the film's audacious style and complex themes help the movie ride up and over its not inconsiderable flaws.

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