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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid - Flashback Review

Steve Martin as a hardboiled dick

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid 7/10

Steve Martin has been a lot of things to a lot of people. Comic, actor, musician, but one thing that he is not, is a talentless hack. Martin started off his comedy career writing for the likes of the Smother's Brothers, Steve Allen and Sonny and Cher before taking his act on the road. After that, Martin transitioned into film work and most of his early films show the influences of his time working for other great comedians and shows.

Movies like The Jerk, The Man With Two Brains and All Of Me relied on Martin's penchanct for his absurd style of comedy. Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid is a mixture of all of these movies thrown together. All though it was made before The Man With Two Brains and All Of Me, you can see Martin's growth both as a comic and an actor in all of these movies.

Directed by Carl Reiner, the movie was a mashup that was written around 20 different pulp noir hardboiled detective films from the 40's and 50's. Reiner went through an archive of films, looking for takes that would fit in with the story line that Martin had written, to help the story flow. The originial idea was to make a detective story and throw in a clip from an old film. That idea turned in to using old clips as a movie and then having Martin wind his way through these scenes.

The plot of the film is that Nazis, under cover as a humanitarian organization, want to destroy America with strategically placed cheese bombs and Martin is there to foil the plot. It starts off as any other hardboild noir movie does. The detective, sitting in his office when a hot dame enters and entices the dick to take on her case.

We're treated to seeing all of these old time great Hollywood actors like Humphrey Bogart, Alan Ladd, Cary Grant, Barbara Stanwyck and even James Cagney. Even though, when this movie was made, most of those great actor's were retired or passed on and even though this is a comedy, the respect that they were given in their scenes is amazing. Unlike today's parody films that just poke fun of celebrities or in some cases make them look like idiots, this film is able to take the established noir movies, parody it and not make it stupid.

Dead Men Don't Wear plaid is a smart, silly, underrated film and deserves more attention than it got. Check it out when you get the chance.

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982)
PG | 1h 28min | Comedy, Crime, Mystery | 21 May 1982 (USA)

Film noir parody with a detective uncovering a sinister plot. Characters from real noirs appear as scenes from various films are intercut.
Director: Carl Reiner
Writers: Carl Reiner, George Gipe |
Stars: Steve Martin, Rachel Ward, Alan Ladd

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