Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (Universal 1982 with Steve Martin and Rachel Ward)

USA / Universal – Aspen Film Society / 88 minutes / 1982 filmed in Black and White

Writers: Carl Reiner, George Gipe, Steve Martin / Music: Mikos Rozsa / Cinematography: Michael Chapman / Production Design: John DeCuit / Producers: David V. Picker, William E. McEuen / Director: Carl Reiner

Cast: Steve Martin, Rachel Ward, Carl Reiner, Reni Santoni

Steve Martin stars as gumshoe Rigby Reardon, down on his luck and ready to take on any job. When the beautiful Juliet Forrest (Rachel Ward) walks into his office and hires him to investigate the sudden death of her father, his first stop is the dead man’s office, where he is shot by Alan Ladd… From here on in, the film escalates into a surreal thriller, as Reardon meets up with Barbara Stanwyck, hires Humphrey Bogart as a leg-man and is made an offer he can’t refuse by Charles Laughton.

What Reiner and Martin, together with cinematographer Michael Chapman and editor Bud Molin, have created is one of cinema’s best spoofs. Taking clips from classics including White Heat , Lost Weekend , Suspicion , Double Indemnity and The Big Sleep , they have seamlessly matched them against Martin, Ward and Reiner’s performances to produces a homage to film noir that is both very funny (thanks to Martin) and a feast for the genre’s fans, who will have a field day naming the stars and the films.