7.0/10
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33 user 16 critic

The Late Show (1977)

A grumpy semi-retired private investigator partners with a quirky female client to catch the people who murdered his partner.

Director:

Robert Benton

Writer:

Robert Benton
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Art Carney ... Ira Wells
Lily Tomlin ... Margo Sterling
Bill Macy ... Charlie Hatter
Eugene Roche ... Ron Birdwell
Joanna Cassidy ... Laura Birdwell
John Considine ... Jeff Lamar
Ruth Nelson ... Mrs. Schmidt
John Davey John Davey ... Sergeant Dayton
Howard Duff ... Harry Regan
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ethel Reschke Ethel Reschke
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Storyline

Ira Wells is an aged retired Los Angeles, California based private investigator comes out of retirement when a former partner, Harry Regan, shows up on his doorstep with a bullet wound to the gut, and dies. Ira wants to find out who killed Harry. Ira is contacted by another long-time acquaintance, Charlie Hatter, a self-proclaimed loser and Hollywood hack, about Harry's last case. Harry's client was Margo Sterling, a former client of Charlie's who is a flaky penniless new-age actress, agent, and dress maker. She hired Harry to retrieve her missing cat, Winston, who is still being held ransom by an acquaintance named Brian Hemphill, who stole Winston because Margo "borrowed" money. With all this, Ira has to figure out what would be the reason for someone to kill Harry. Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The nicest movie you'll ever see about murder and blackmail. [Lobby Card] See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Warner Bros.

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

4 July 1977 (Denmark) See more »

Also Known As:

La última investigación See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film opens with an old black and white Warner Brothers logo, not the color one which was in use by the studio at the time. See more »

Goofs

Margo complains, after tasting her drink, that it is Pepsi, not the Coke she ordered. She then pours more from the initially out of shot Pepsi can. She would have known it was Pepsi from the can, either when Charlie poured the drink or when he put the can on the bar top. See more »

Quotes

Ira: Why was, uh, this Escobar blackmailing you?
Laura Birdwell: Well, I was seeing this man. We were having an affair.
Ira: Your husband didn't know anything about it?
Margo Sperling: Does the Pope shit in the woods?
See more »

Connections

Spin-off Eye to Eye (1985) See more »

Soundtracks

What Was
Lyrics by Stephen Lehner
Music by Kenneth Wannberg (as Ken Wannberg)
Sung by Bev Kelly
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Wonderful performances in an overlooked film
10 August 2006 | by dtidballSee all my reviews

The Late Show is one of the most underrated films of all time. It's somewhat convoluted detective plot has raised comparisons to Chinatown, which is both unfair and unfortunate. This is a film that stands out on its own.

The acting is generally very good, and the performances by the leads are particularly strong. Dialogue which might have seemed forced or corny with less assured actors is believable and often funny here. Art Carney and Lily Tomlin are fun to watch as a bickering detective duo brought together as much by mutual loneliness as by anything the plot throws at them. Both are able to keep their characters interesting without overdoing it. It would have been especially easy for Ms. Tomlin to go over the top with her depiction of the rather flighty Margo, but she manages to balance her character's peculiarities and make it look effortless.

Robert Benton received an academy award nomination for his screenplay, but he really deserved more recognition for directing a film in which he gets the mood just right, and trusts his cast to do their jobs well. This was no mean feat for a work that needs to be film noir with some comic timing.

I saw this film when it first came out nearly 30 years ago, and then watched it again recently. At a time when so many films rely on computer generated images, and plots that seem dreamed up by marketing departments, it was refreshing to rediscover a film that relies on strong direction, and outstanding acting.


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