Thursday, January 13, 2011

Steve Martin Makes Coffee for Burt Lancaster: " Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid" (1982)

I found this oddball movie amusing and a nice tribute to the film noir genre of movie-making and detective stories of Hollywood in the post-war 40's and 50's.

Steve Martin plays Rigby Reardon, a private gumshoe who will do just about anything for money--even help a beautiful mysterious woman (Rachel Ward) who hires him to solve the murder of her father, a prominent cheese scientist, whose death was officially listed as an accident.

Film Critic Leonard Maltin called this one a "one joke" film, but that's not quite fair in my mind. The joke is that, using simulated old-style black and white cinematography, the detective can be seen playing opposite actors and actresses from 40 years back in Hollywood history. That's the main joke, but it's used in a way that succeeds more often than it falls flat. And Martin--even in an early role--is already the type of actor who can stretch his persona as a broad comedy performer out a bit.

This is the one of the best past/future scenes in the picture. Reardon comes calling at the dingy digs of Swede Anderson (Burt Lancaster from 1944's "The Killers") and decides the guy could use "a cup of my java".


  1. Here's the trailer. The tagline at the end says it all!

  2. I've never seen this movie as I'm not a big fan of Steve Martin, but I think I'll get it from Netflix and watch it. I saw him in The one with Meryl Streep, "It's Complicated", and I thought he did that part very well, so maybe I should give this a shot too.
    Thanks for this, Doug.

  3. Sorry Doug, Martin never has made a movie I liked.

  4. You're welcome Jacquie. I saw "It's Complicated" as well and was impresed by all the actors, including Martin.

  5. Sounds like you feel about Steve Martin the way I feel about Adam Sandler, Jim.