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

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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.

production details
USA | Universal – Aspen Film Society | 89 minutes | 1982

Director: Carl Reiner
Script: Steve Martin, George Gipe, Carl Reiner,

cast
Steve Martin as Rigby Reardon
Rachel Ward as Juliet Forrest
Cheryl Smith as Veronica Lake
George Gaynes as Dr. Forrest
Reni Santoni as Carlos Rodriguez
Francis X. McCarthy as Waiter (as Frank McCarthy)
William Conrad (in “The Killers”) (archive footage)
Bette Davis (in “Deception”) (archive footage)
Fred MacMurray (in “Double Indemnity”) (archive footage)
Humphrey Bogart (in “The Big Sleep” / “In a Lonely Place” / “Dark Passage”) (archive footage)
Charles Laughton (in “The Bribe”) (archive footage)
Ava Gardner (in “The Killers” / “The Bribe”) (archive footage)
Burt Lancaster (in “The Killers”) (archive footage)
Veronica Lake (in “The Glass Key”) (archive footage)
Alan Ladd (in “This Gun For Hire”) (archive footage)
Joan Crawford (in “Humoresque”) (archive footage)
John Miljan (in “The Killers”) (archive footage)
Norma Varden (in “The Glass Key”) (archive footage)
Jeff Corey (in “The Killers”) (archive footage)
Vincent Price (in “The Bribe”) (archive footage)
Cary Grant (in “Suspicion”) (archive footage)
Carl Reiner Juliets Butler/Feldmarschall Wilfried von Kluck
Barbara Stanwyck (in “Sorry – Wrong Number”) (archive footage)
Ray Milland (in “The Lost Weekend”) (archive footage)
Ingrid Bergman (in “Notorious”) (archive footage)
Lana Turner (in “Johnny Eager” / “The Postman Always Rings Twice”) (archive footage)
Edward Arnold (in “Johnny Eager”) (archive footage)
Kirk Douglas (in “I Walk Alone”) (archive footage)
James Cagney (in “White Heat”) (archive footage)
Charles McGraw (in The Killers) (archive footage)
Brian Donlevy (in “The Glass Key”) (archive footage)
Edmond O’Brien(in “White Heat”) (archive footage)

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