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Gumshoe (1972)

Albert Finney , Billie Whitelaw , Stephen Frears  |  PG |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Albert Finney, Billie Whitelaw, Frank Finlay, Janice Rule, Carolyn Seymour
  • Directors: Stephen Frears
  • Writers: Neville Smith
  • Producers: Albert Finney, David Barber, Michael Medwin
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: February 3, 2009
  • Run Time: 88 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001LMAK7E
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #226,643 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Gumshoe" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Eddie Ginley (Albert Finney) is a comedian turned private eye who gets into hot water when he meets a fat man (George Silver) and a femme fatale (Janice Rule). Armed with only rapid-fire banter and sharpened instinct, Ginley must save the dame from a drug smuggling ring before the joke's on him. Paying homage to Bogart, Chandler and Hammett, Gumshoe puts a clever spin on the classic detective tale.Oscar nominees Albert Finney (2000, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Erin Brockovich) and Stephen Frears (1990, Best Director, The Grifters) are partners in crime in this sleuth spoof that features Janice Rule, Billie Whitelaw and Wendy Richard.

This little British gem is a must-have for all fans of hard-boiled detective films--and their spoofs. Gumshoe actually succeeds at being both--a sendup of classic '40s Raymond Chandler masterpieces, but particularly cheeky in that singular English manner. Albert Finney plays a struggling comedian who, on a lark, decides to place an ad as a private eye ("no divorce work"). Finney affects just about every classic tic of the genre: the side-of-the-mouth delivery, the world-weary outlook ("It was the kind of a place where you needed a black tie just to take a bath"), the quip-for-quip dialogue. But then he’s sucked right into the world he’s been dancing around, complete with murder plots, drug smuggling, blowzy dames, and too-close calls. Finney’s believable as a real private dick, and is also subtly hilarious sending up the genre. The film was directed by a young Stephen Frears, and his deft touch keeps the sometimes out-there plot moving forward confidently. And Andrew Lloyd Webber provides the memorable score, which film music fans will recognize as an homage to the theme of the all-time great film noir masterpiece Sunset Boulevard. Sam Spade would be proud. --A.T. Hurley

Stills from Gumshoe (Click for larger image)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great underrated film. Deserves more attention! December 31, 2008
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I am so pleased this long neglected film is finally being released on DVD! I have owned the VHS version for almost 20 years, and have worried the tape would degrade before it would become available on DVD. I re-watched my VHS of Gumshoe recently. Though it's been a few years since I had viewed it, it remains my favorite movie of both Albert Finney and Stephen Frears. To enjoy it you have to realize it is pastiche, a tongue in cheek tribute to those old film noir detective films of the 1940s. It is fun and interesting to watch from that aspect. The musical score is hysterical and the dialogue is fast, sharp, and laced with dry humor. Americans without an attuned ear to English accents may have a little trouble following, but it is worth the effort, even if you have to replay certain scenes.

Though it couldn't have been a challenging performance for an actor of Finney's caliber, he and the entire cast are terrific. If you are a British Cinema film buff, watching this 1972 production today, one almost feels as if you are seeing a piece of motion picture history, with an amazingly talented cast that includes Frank Finlay, Billie Whitelaw and Fulton Mackay. Add to this it was Stephen Frears movie directorial debut and Andrew Lloyd Webber is credited for the music.

Other trivia:
--Gumshoe was a Memorial Enterprises production. This is the production company formed by Finney and Michael Medwin in the 1960s that also produced breakthrough films such as Lindsay Anderson's "If" and "O Lucky Man" and Mike Leigh's first film, "Bleak Moments", and Finney's own masterpiece, "Charlie Bubbles". Medwin is credited as Producer on Gumshoe, as he is on most or all of M.E. productions.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A witty comedy with serious undercurrents January 17, 2007
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
Here's a terrific little film that's never gotten its proper due. Yes, it works wonderfully as a comedy, filled with funny & fascinating characters, as well as being an affectionate parody of classic Bogart detective films. But there's more to it than that ...

Albert Finney provides us with a compelling, funny, yet sometimes sad study of Eddie Ginley, a man reluctant to grow up, reluctant to let go of the dreams & fantasies of childhood. The comparison with his older, more realistic, businessman brother couldn't be sharper -- especially when we learn that his brother wound up marrying Eddie's girlfriend, because Eddie wasn't quite prepared for marriage & all that it entails.

It's telling & deeply moving, for instance, when in the midst of solving the real-life mystery which has enveloped him, Eddie runs into an old friend. The two stop to converse & catch up, reminiscing about favorite rock 'n' roll songs, teenage exploits ... and almost in passing, the friend reveals that he's married & has children. Eddie is both touched & a little lost. There's a pervading sense of, "Where did the past go?"

Yet Eddie isn't a loser. If he's let fantasy enrich his life at the expense of some maturity, he hasn't succumbed to the banality & corruption of "realistic" life, as represented by his older brother. And if the world isn't as neatly black & white as a classic detective film, there's still a difference between right & wrong, however wide the gray area between them.

By the time we get to the end of the story, and the mystery has been resolved, Eddie's definitely matured ... yet without entirely losing the richness of his fantasy life.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic mid-career Finney November 27, 2003
Format:VHS Tape
I've followed most of Finney's films from the beginning, as I always find him amusing and his eye for unusual roles and interesting scripts has kept me keen. Add in the directing skills of Stephen Frears and some good English character actors and you're bound to have a good time.
I've always paired this one with "Wolfen", made about a decade later, in which he also plays a detective. While that one was a supernatural thriller set in New York with dizzy editing effects and great location sets, this one is a grittier and more whimsical take on 1940s' detective/crime thrillers, set in Liverpool.
Finney's character here is a keen observer, film buff and and fantasiser, and is responsible for some wonderful punning dialogue, perhaps a trait that was of its time and better suited to novels, but in Finney's hands it comes off.
It's a film not for mainstream tastes, perhaps, as it's decidedly quirky, and no doubt why a number of critics didn't enthuse about the film. But for wit in the script, acting and direction this one is from the top drawer. Definitely overdue for DVD release.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars By all means, three olives April 12, 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I am still trying to figure out what makes a film a "Martini Movie," but this is the best one in the series so far. An alarmingly young Albert Finney plays a bored Liverpuddlian would-be comedian who places an advertisement promoting himself as a private eye and gets more than he bargained for. This early Stephen Frears film is both a sendup and a celebration of pulp private-eye film noir, tight, crisp, clever without being precious, darkly comic, and downright scary when it needs to be. Finney bounces off the always electric Frank Finlay as his shipping magnate brother, as well as at least two delicious femmes fatales in the most welcome persons of Billie Whitelaw and Janice Rule. The witty soundtrack score is by some hungry young dude named Andrew Lloyd Weber.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars For fans of Albert Finney
For fans of Albert Finney this movie is
a must have. Here a young Finney investigates
mystery as a naive Sherlock Holmes.
Well directed.
Published 1 month ago by mariano rodriguez
5.0 out of 5 stars Gumshoe to the rescue
This 1971 English film offers up (in Sam Spades) a fine addition to the list of great noir films.
It's a heavy in the pocket lump of small change film. Read more
Published 3 months ago by daniel r. esian
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I loved it really
Published 3 months ago by Robert Habington
5.0 out of 5 stars Gumshoe
This movie is a comedy drama filmed in Liverpool, UK ( a terrible city, according to those in the South of England). Read more
Published on March 29, 2012 by Scouser
1.0 out of 5 stars NO STAR MOVIE
This movie was very disapointing It is essentially a string of dialogues from better movies bound togather is in something remotely resembling a plot.
Published on December 10, 2011 by Mitchell Weaver
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent film noir parody
In my opinion, its Finney's best movie after 'Tom Johns'. An unusual film noir parody with 'The Maltese Falcon' story line. The genre's cliches are a delight. Read more
Published on February 2, 2011 by Esar Shvartz
5.0 out of 5 stars Finney Shines In Spy Spoof
"Gumshoe" is a rare bird indeed. A homage to old-style detective films that could also serve as parody. Read more
Published on September 4, 2009 by David Baldwin
5.0 out of 5 stars Missing segment
This is a gem; worthy of cult status.
But is my memory deceiving me or is there a bit missing -at least on the dvd version. Read more
Published on June 19, 2009 by Eric Othelwaite
2.0 out of 5 stars THE MALTESE TURKEY
I've read reviews of this film that praised it, that discussed it as a cult classic. For me it only fell into that category by being a misguided film that made little sense and... Read more
Published on March 14, 2009 by Mark Turner
4.0 out of 5 stars The Little Sleep(er)
A lovable Liverpudlian loser plays at Philip Marlowe in this English re-examination of the private detective genre similar to those that flourished stateside in the early 70s. Read more
Published on February 14, 2009 by EddieLove
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