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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Late Show (1977)

When his ex-partner (Howard Duff) shows up at his rooming house shot to death, an aging and impoverished private eye (Art Carney) is determined to find the man that killed him. When a kooky ex-actress (Lily Tomlin) attempts to hire him to find her kidnapped cat, he's not interested ..... until he finds out that there's a connection between the kidnapped cat and the murder of his ex-partner. Robert Benton's (PLACES IN THE HEART) film is a loving valentine to the film noir genre but instead of setting it in the Los Angeles of the 1940s or 1950s, he sets it in contemporary (circa 1977) L.A. Carney's Ira Wells isn't a tough talking Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe type either. He's got bleeding ulcers, walks with a limp, wears a hearing aid and glasses and is frequently out of breath. Tomlin isn't the prototypical noir femme fatale (that role falls to Joanna Cassidy BLADE RUNNER), she's a quirky flower child who sits in the lotus position and chants! But Benton's Oscar nominated screenplay is perfectly attuned to the rhythm of both the noir genre and the zeitgeist of the 70s. Carney has never given a better screen performance (not even in his Oscar winning role, HARRY AND TONTO) and he has an unexpectedly marvelous chemistry with Tomlin. The faux Jerry Goldsmith score is by Ken Wannberg. With Bill Macy, John Considine, Eugene Roche and Ruth Nelson.

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