(Carl Reiner, USA, 1982) 88 minutes


Director: Carl Reiner
Production co: Aspen Film Society
Producers: David V. Picker, William E. McEuen
Screenplay: Carl Reiner, George Gipe, Steve Martin
Cinematography: Michael Chapman
Editor: Bud Molin
Production designer: John DeCuir
Music: Miklos Rozsa
Steve Martin (Rigby Reardon)
Rachel Ward (Juliet Forrest)
Reni Santoni (Carlos Rodriguez)
Carl Reiner (Wilfred von Kluck)
George Gaynes (Dr Jon Hay Forrest)
Plus excerpts from 18 film noir classics

Reviews and notes

This loose film is more than a spoof of the hard-boiled noir of the Forties and Fifties; it is a tribute to the wonderful memories these films created in a generation. DEAD MEN DON'T WEAR PLAID is a postmodernist's dream because the plot is simply spliced-together clips with enough script around them to justify the whole exercise. Well, enough script and Martin's wonderful deadpan antics, that subtly wink at the sheer amount of fun he and the rest of the cast is having, playing characters ripped straight from celluloid.

That much joy could be justification for almost anything. This is a movie, however, that doesn't need much vindication. Sure, it's not great art that speaks to the human condition or some such elitist nonsense, even though it does confirm some undeniable attraction that straight men have for breasts. It is a rip-roaring comedy that whisks you into a black & white world where Humphrey Bogart and Joan Crawford still reign supreme.

While technology has advanced by leaps and bounds in the last 16 years, the blending of old and new footage still works in this early attempt. Granted, the plot is silly - down-on-his-luck detective is hired by mysterious, zaftig woman to discover why her crazed-scientist father was murdered - and the jokes are equally silly, but the whole thing is carried off by Martin's charm and inherently jocular persona.
- Adrienne Martini, Austin Chronicle, 3 February 1998.

These are the films from which clips have been taken, and the actors involved:
This Gun For Hire (1942) Alan Ladd
Sorry, Wrong Number (1948) Barbara Stanwyck
Double Indemnity (1944) Barbara Stanwyk, Fred MacMurray
The Lost Weekend (1945) Ray Milland
The Killers (1946) Ava Gardner, Burt Lancaster,
William Conrad, Charles McGraw, Jeff Corey, John Miljan
The Bribe (1949) Ava Gardner, Charles Laughton, Vincent Price
The Big Sleep (1946) Humphrey Bogart
In a Lonely Place (1950) Humphrey Bogart
Dark Passage (1947) Humphrey Bogart
Suspicion (1941) Cary Grant
Notorious (1946) Ingrid Bergman
The Glass Key (1942) Veronica Lake, Brian Donlevy, Norma Varden
Deception (1946) Bette Davis
Johnny Eager (1942) Lana Turner, Edward Arnold
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) Lana Turner
I Walk Alone (1948) Kirk Douglas
White Heat (1949) James Cagney, Edmond O'Brien
Humoresque (1946) Joan Crawford

Weblink: Review by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

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