Monday, March 9, 2009
Day Forty-Five: The Cheap Detective (1978) - Rank 2.5/5
Let me begin by saying that this film has a ton of assets on its side. It's written by Neil Simon and directed by Robert Moore (whose previous film, "Murder By Death" is one I consider to be one of my favorite comedies). The film is a parody of film noir, primarily "The Maltese Falcon" and "Casablanca." Then, apart from starring Peter Falk, the supporting cast is comprised of James Coco, Eileen Brennan, Dom DeLuise, Madeline Kahn, Sid Cesar, Ann-Margret and Phil Silver, just to name a few. Why, for the love of God, is this movie so boring? It doesn't make sense. To me, such a notion would be as unfathomable as a collegiate production of Shakespeare actually being tolerable.
The only logical hypothesis I can come up with is that when Simon and Moore teamed up two years prior to spoof the detective genre for the first time in "Murder By Death," they used up all the possible humor that could have been derived from the source material. Most of the film was a mix of PG potty humor or bad puns (and if you know me, then you also know that for me to diss a pun then it must be bad). One redeeming performance is that of John Houseman as Jasper Blubber, a parody of Sydney Greenstreet. His dry wit handles the weak script far better than most of the other actors do. Despite being veterans of the comedic field, they tends to follow their jokes with a brief pause, as if to tell you that the last quip they made is funny. I suppose they must have consulted Dan Colemenares on shooting the film. "You gotta build in the laughs..." Inside Joke!
No genuine trailer that I could find, so here's a fan-made trailer (for what it's worth)