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The Cheap Detective

By Bret Fetzer

Most fans of everything-but-the-kitchen-sink comedies like The Naked Gun and Hot Shots probably think the genre started with Airplane!, but Neil Simon's The Cheap Detective came two years earlier. It's a camp parody of Humphrey Bogart's 1940s detective flicks (particularly The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep), with a big dose of Casablanca thrown in for good measure. There's no point in describing the plot--it's little more than a series of cameos by just about every actor working in the Super70s, including Ann-Margaret, Eileen Brennan, Stockard Channing, James Coco, Scatman Crothers, Dom DeLuise, John Houseman, Marsha Mason, and Nicol Williamson. Peter Falk plays the detective and does a fine Bogey impression. Unfortunately, it's not Neil Simon's best work--he's better at character comedy such as The Odd Couple and The Goodbye Girl than this kind of slapstick--but there are a few good lines and the cast gives it their best. Louise Fletcher, not usually known for comedy, does a sharp satire of Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca, and Madeline Kahn never fails to entertain in a variety of disguises.

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FILM FACTS

Buy this VHS movie from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Soundtrack unavailable at Amazon.com - try eBay (see links below)Rated PGNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Robert Moore

Stars: Peter Falk, Ann-Margret, Eileen Brennan, Sid Caesar, Stockard Channing, James Coco, Dom De Luise, Louise Fletcher, John Houseman, Madeline Kahn, Fernando Lamas, Marsha Mason, Phil Silvers, Vic Tayback, Abe Vigoda, Paul Williams, Nicol Williamson

Released: June 23, 1978

Availability: DVD VHS


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