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| 21 August 2018 | Reply

Directed by Carl Reiner
Starring: Steve Martin, Rachel Ward
Shock Entertainment, July 2018
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Carl Reiner directs a superb Steve Martin as Rigby Reardon in this hilarious homage to the pulp detective movies of the 1940s, also starring Rachel Ward as the ubiquitous dame Juliet Forrest, alongside many of the biggest stars of the black and white era, via collaged scenes from nineteen classic movies.

Apparently the premise was devised by Martin, Reiner and screenwriter George Gipe over a Hollywood lunch, where the actor suggested using one scene from an old film for a new project he was writing. Conversation turned to assembling an entire movie from repurposed old scenes and Reiner and Gipe spent hours watching classic movies looking for suitable snippets to use, then crafting a story for Martin to work his comic magic around.

Plundered from films including Double Indemnity, The Killers, The Big Sleep, White Heat, The Postman Always Rings Twice and Notorious, the likes of Alan Ladd, Cary Grant, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Ava Gardner, Charles Laughton, Fred MacMurray, Ray Milland, Vincent Price, Lana Turner, Kirk Douglas, and of course Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney all appear.

Martin’s alternate deadpan/manic delivery plays to superb effect, even when riffing off scenes shot forty years prior, and the result is a very funny film enhanced by veteran costume designer Edith Head (in her last job) creating suits indicative of the period for Martin, and production designer John De Cuir’s similarly iconic and period-suitable sets.

Some critics of Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid criticise the film as a one-gag affair, but there are plenty of laughs in Martin’s delivery above and beyond the novelty of the vintage clips being used.


Category: Movie & Theatre Reviews

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