Sunday Night at the Movies: Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982)

When I first saw this movie when it was released in the theaters, I thought it was pretty good. And I hesitated to have my memories come crashing down on me, much like subsequent viewings of other fondly remembered movies from those days did. (ie. "Xanadu" which I readily admit I enjoyed as a teenager, but watched again in the late 90's once and wondered how the hell I ever liked that piece of crap.)

Steve Martin is not always on my list of favorite movie stars. I can list on the fingers of one hand the movies which I will watch again and again that features him. But I admire a lot more of his comedy writing talent than I do as an actor. "My Blue Heaven" was totally without a good side in my opinion, whereas although i didn't like his portrayals as Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther remakes, I still thought they were pretty funny, as far as the writing went.

But I found I still enjoyed DMDWP, even after the long delay between viewings. Over that period of time, I had watched many of the clips of old film noir movies they had spliced into the plot line, too, and enjoyed all of them, so that may have colored my judgement.

To give you an overview, Steve plays Rigby Reardon a private detective, who is hired by a very hot Rachel Ward as Juliet Forrest, who wants him to investigate the mysterious death of her father, a scientist. What ensues is what I still consider a tour de force of plotting, in which Martin interracts with characters who are, in our reality, characters from other older film noir movies, often with hilarious comments from Martin.

Over the course of the film, Reardon discovers that there are cryptic lists "Friends of Carlotta" and "Enemies of Carlotta". Just who Carlotta is and why a list s being made of her enemies and friends is one of the may mysteries that Reardon faces. I won't give away the final part of the movie because its just too hilarious to spoil it by telling the outcome. Rene Santoni and Carl Reiner (who also dircted) are guest stars in a very entertaining movie.

4 stars.

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