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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Cheap Detective (1978)

When his partner (Wally K. Berns) is murdered, a San Francisco private detective (Peter Falk doing Bogart) attempts to find the killer. But an ex-lover (Louise Fletcher doing Ingrid Bergman) as well as a mysterious liar (Madeline Kahn doing Mary Astor) are only two of the many distractions that complicate the case. Writer Neil Simon had a popular success two years earlier with MURDER BY DEATH, an affectionate satire of murder mysteries. This time he does the same thing to the hard boiled detective and the film noir genre. While he uses many bits and pieces from the genre, he concentrates on three classics: THE MALTESE FALCON, CASABLANCA and MURDER MY SWEET. If one is unfamiliar with the films he's satirizing, you may find it only mildly amusing. But if you've seen and love the movies, it's a film buff's treat. The film may play out like an extended sketch on THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW or SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE but it never wears out its welcome. Directed by Robert Moore. The large ensemble cast includes Ann-Margret (doing Claire Trevor), Marsha Mason (doing Gladys George), Eileen Brennan (doing Rita Hayworth), Stockard Channing (doing Lee Patrick), Fernando Lamas (doing Paul Henreid), John Houseman (doing Sydney Greenstreet), Nicol Williamson (doing Conrad Veidt), Dom DeLuise (doing Peter Lorre), Paul Williams (doing Elisha Cook) and Sid Caesar, Phil Silvers, James Coco, James Cromwell, Vic Tayback and Abe Vigoda. 

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