Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Cheap Detective by Neil Simon (on DVD)

The Cheap Detective
by Neil Simon [DVD Cheap] 

This 1978 film, written by famed playwright/screenwriter Neil Simon, is a masterful parody of the 1940s Humphrey Bogart classics, Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon. Peter Falk, perhaps best known as TV’s Columbo (1968-78, 1989-2003), stars as Lou Peckingpaugh a cynical, world-weary private investigator, who gets caught up in a complicated plot that includes thugs, crooks, Nazis, femmes fatales and lots of secrets. The best part of this parody is the huge cast of late-70s era stars who portray new takes on the classic characters from the Bogart films — Madeline Kahn plays the Mary Astor role, John Houseman the Sidney Greenstreet, Ann-Margaret the Lauren Bacall, Dom DeLuise the Peter Lorre, Louise Fletcher the Ingrid Bergman and Fernando Lamas the Paul Henreid. Additional star power comes in the form of bit parts featuring Eileen Brennan, Sid Caesar, Phil Silvers, Nicol Williamson, James Coco, Scatman Crothers, Stockard Channing, Marsha Mason, Abe Vigoda, Paul Williams and more.

The humor is extremely broad, but the dialog crackles and everyone seems to be having a fun time. If you’re a fan of the original source material being parodied, love Peter Falk, or follow the works of Neil Simon, you won’t want to miss revisiting this gem. If you’ve never seen Casablanca and/or The Maltese Falcon, it’s still entertaining, but you’re not going to appreciate many of the references. Still…it’s a hoot to watch, even after almost 40 years!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Murder By Death, also starring Peter Falk and written by Neil Simon (1976), which parodies a wide variety of different cinema/literary sleuths, including Sam Spade, Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Charlie Chan, and Nick and Nora Charles] [ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you seen this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

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