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Friday, October 16, 2015

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982)

When a noted scientist (George Gaynes) is killed in an auto accident, his daughter (Rachel Ward, THORN BIRDS) hires a private detective (Steve Martin) to investigate as she believes it was not an accident but murder. A delight parody of and loving homage to the film noir genre, director Carl Reiner and co-writer Steve Martin (along with George Gipe) have given us a pastiche of noir films utilizing actual clips from classic noir and combining it with a new plot intercut with new footage so that we have Cary Grant (one of many) and Steve Martin interacting together in a scene. A gimmick? Sure but a one trick pony it ain't. The screenplay is clever enough that it all seems seamless. The cinematographer Michael Chapman does an inspired job of recreating the noir look and lighting while film veterans who actually worked on classic noir like composer Miklos Rozsa and costume designer Edith Head (this was the last film of both) recreate the sound and look that gives the film its authenticity. A film buff's delight. With Carl Reiner, Reni Santoni and Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, Lana Turner, Burt Lancaster, Alan Ladd, Kirk Douglas, Ingrid Bergman, Joan Crawford, Barbara Stanwyck, Ray Milland, James Cagney, Ava Gardner, Fred MacMurray, Veronica Lake, Charles Laughton, Vincent Price and Edward Arnold.

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