Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid
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As the private eyes of private eyes, Steve Martin is Rigby Reardon. He's tough, rough and ready to take on anything when Juliet Forrest (Rachel Ward) appears on the scene with a case: her father, a noted scientist, philanthropist and cheesemaker, had died mysteriously. Reardon immediately smells a rat and follows a complex maze of clues that lead him to the "Carlotta Lists." With a little help from his "friends", Alan Ladd, Barbara Stanwyck, Ray Milland, Burt Lancaster, Humphrey Bogart, Charles Laughton, etc., Reardon gets his man. An exciting, action-fun packed film the way '40s films used to be!
This is one of the best parodies of the '40s hardboiled detective genre, with a very clever conceit: weaving the plot and production design around memorable movie clips (The Killers, The Big Sleep, Double Indemnity, The Lost Weekend, White Heat, This Gun for Hire, Sorry, Wrong Number, Notorious). Steve Martin plays the cool Rigby Reardon, who tries solving an incomprehensible mystery with the assistance of Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Burt Lancaster, Fred MacMurray, Ingrid Bergman, and Ray Milland, among others. It's all silly hokum with Rachel Ward as the pretty moll and director-cowriter Carl Reiner as the nefarious villain. Miklos Rozsa takes us back to yesteryear with his lush score, and, fittingly, Edith Head handles the period costumes in her final production. --Bill Desowitz
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Top Customer Reviews
Sit back and have a few laughs as you watch it, but whatever you do, don't call out for your CLEANING WOMAN!
As one who remembers these great stars and great films, and one who appreciates films with clever dialog and intriguing and especially funny plots: I give it a resounding Five Stars. It’s one of my all-time favorites.
Oh yeah, "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid" has the most impressive all-star cast of all time... and it almost doesn't matter that most of them were dead by the time it was made. They still steal the show in this hilariously twisty noir parody, which cleverly pastes in footage from classic movies to enhance the wacky detection of Steve Martin.
Private eye Rigby Reardon (Steve Martin) is approached by Juliet Forrest (Rachel Ward), the sexy daughter of a brilliant scientist/cheesemaker. She believes her father's recent death was not an accident, and she wants him to investigate -- and soon he discovers two lists that Forrest left behind, naming the friends and enemies of the mysterious "Carlotta."
So Rigby bumbles through a bizarre tangle of odd clues (jewelry soup, a dollar bill, a key, a cruise ship), sinister characters, and bizarre situations (he impersonates a woman TWICE) in his search for the truth. Can he uncover the truth about the "Friends of Carlotta" and find true love for Juliet, or will this be Rigby's final case?
"Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid" is an amazing movie. The main story itself is pretty funny but not exceptional, but they somehow managed to cobble together all these classic movie clips into that story. Oh, there are a few clips that don't really work -- Joan Crawford's appearance -- but most of them are perfectly woven seamlessly into Martin's story.
Example: when Rigby finds himself on a train with Cary Grant, he decides to knock out Grant with a harmonica... and the look of disbelieving annoyance on Grant's face is ABSOLUTELY PERFECT.
I don't usually enjoy Martin's movies, but this movie has the right balance of sly spoof and strait-faced comedy. There are some fun running gags ("CLEANING WOMAN!") and some fun lowbrow comedy (the puppy scene), but the most entertaining part of this is seeing Martin "interacting" with stars of yesteryear. It's just so funny when he does stuff like throttle Bette Davis or woofs at Ingrid Bergman.
"Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid" isn't quite Mel Brooks material, but it takes its one overriding joke and milks it for all it's worth. Sly, smooth and very funny.