Bonus features: theatrical trailer film highlights talent bios production notes and web links. Studio: Uni Dist Corp. (mca) Release Date: 08/23/2005 Starring: Steve Martin Run time: 89 minutes Rating: Pg
Ridiculous Steve Martin b/w film combining parts of old b/w films with new shorts to create the (at times non-sensical) story. Pretty unique idea, I think. Blended very well, worth a watch.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
5 stars for brilliant editing & hilarious parody!
Dave | Tennessee United States | 10/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Before I bought this recently I had never even heard of it. I'm a huge fan of film noir & so I had to see if a parody would be entertaining. It is now my favorite Steve Martin movie! The script is hilarious & clever & will keep you laughing constantly. The plot brilliantly fits in clips of famous film noirs of the 40s, & you get to see Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, Burt Lancaster, Barbara Stanwyck, & Lana Turner "interact" with Steve Martin as he tries to solve a mystery after being hired by the very beautiful Rachel Ward. Filmed in black & white & with wonderful music by famous composer Miklos Rozsa, you cannot go wrong with this ingenious comedy. FYI, this was the final film for the legendary costume designer Edith Head. If you're a film noir or Steve Martin fan then this is a must-have!"
C. T. Mikesell | near Eugene, Oregon | 01/07/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid is one of those movies that are so jaw-droppingly brilliant that you can't believe what you're seeing. While the acting is a bit stiff in places, and Steve Martin's occasional use of "dangerous words" doesn't fit with a 40's noir film, the premise and near perfect execution of intercutting old and new films is incredible. For instance, Steve Martin's character's name is Rigby Reardon. On the surface it has that alliterative "Sam Spade" quality so you chalk it up the pastiche. Later however, actors from the old movies refer to someone off-screen as "Mr. Reardon" or "Rigby," and you realize how things were set up from the beginning. Likewise, Rigby's reaction to the words "cleaning woman" seems like just an odd quirk at first - until later, when it gives him an excuse to strangle Bette Davis. The scene of Rigby and Alan Ladd sharing a plate of cookies is simply amazing.The DVD skimps on extras, but as it's an inexpensive title you're still getting full value for your movie purchasing dollar. Don't miss the original theatrical trailer, though; I don't recall having seen it before and Steve Martin's narration as funny as anything in the film itself (who else could include "sliding" as a major reason to see a movie?).If you're a fan of the old 40's detective/suspense films, you'll really appreciate this movie. If you're a newcomer to the world of film noir, the movies spliced in here (conveniently listed in the end credits) are some of the best. If you're just looking for laughs, the gags are spaced out quite a bit in parts, but that gives you an opportunity to appreciate the dramatic side of Steve Martin you don't always see. Steve Martin and Carl Reiner should be very proud to have made this movie. You should be proud to include it in your DVD library."
My favorite Steve Martin movie of them all...
R. Lindeboom | Paso Robles, CA USA | 06/26/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Steve Martin and Rachel Ward are almost too funny for words in this one. With this film, Carl Reiner did to 40's film noir what Mel Brooks did to Star Wars with his Spaceballs -- though I'd say that Reiner's Dead Men Don't far excels Spaceballs. This, as while Mel Brooks uses some great one-liners and sight gags in his send-up of space flicks, Reiner's brilliant pastiche of old clips from classic films (complete with Bogart, Cagney, Milland, etc.) cut together with Steve Martin acting against these scenes is simply astounding in its technical acheievement while being some of the funniest moments ever put to film. This is Steve Martin at his best and Rachel Ward is stunningly beautiful -- with her beauty punctuating her delivery of key scenes in a way that only compounds the comedy, as you'd never expect to see something like this in real life. When she removes the bullets from a wounded Steve Martin, you just have to break out damned near belly laughing. The whole effect works brilliantly and the writing, filming, costumes and acting all work together in a seamless work that is one of the most under-rated films of all time. Thanks for putting it on DVD, I'd about worn my VHS copy out over the years of playing."
Still Uproarious Film Noir Pastiche Thanks to Clever Editing
Ed Uyeshima | San Francisco, CA USA | 01/21/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Carl Reiner's 1982 pastiche on 1940's film noir has never received its due as a genuinely clever, often hilarious salute to a genre that is ripe for satirical treatment. Filmed in a rich black-and-white by Michael Chapman, the film unique intercuts footage from actual films of the period to make it seem like the then-current actors are interacting with the stars of those movies. Consequently, Steve Martin looks convincingly like he's talking to the likes of Humphrey Bogart in "The Big Sleep", James Cagney in "White Heat", Ingrid Bergman in "Notorious", Alan Ladd in "This Gun for Hire", Burt Lancaster in "The Killers", Kirk Douglas in "I Walk Alone", Fred MacMurray in "Double Indemnity", and several others. The result means there are some contrived plot turns and certainly variations in the graininess of the film stock (since 1982 was still well before the enhanced computer graphics we see today), but the film is still quite a kick after a quarter-century.
The basic plot is straightforward. Rigby Reardon is a classic, world-weary gumshoe in the Philip Marlowe mold, who is hired by the beautiful and mysterious Juliet Forrest to find out who killed her father, a renowned cheese scientist. The story gets complicated because a number of random characters are introduced through the creative editing of the classic film clips. Reardon meets up with some familiar faces, and just to watch their non-reaction to Reardon's antics is worthwhile in itself. Credit needs to go to the smart screenplay co-written by Reiner, Martin and George Gipe. Most of the scenes, originally intended as straight melodrama in their original context, have been turned into uproarious slapstick comedy routines (including Martin in drag as Barbara Stanwyck's blonde femme fatale from "Double Indemnity"), wicked double-entendres and shrewdly off-kilter dialogue scenes.
The film's climax lifts a long dramatic sequence from 1949's "The Bribe" in which Ava Gardner, Charles Laughton and Vincent Price actually appear to be playing more substantial roles in this movie. In what is probably my favorite of his early screen performances, Martin has a good time as Bogie wannabe Reardon, gratefully harnessing the manic energy he displayed in his previous collaboration with Reiner, "The Jerk". Just before she broke out big in "The Thorn Birds", the stunning Rachel Ward lends a hint of welcome sarcasm to the sexy, Bacall-like languor she provides as Juliet, tapping into a genuine comedy talent rarely used since. Reni Santoni has the only other role of significance as the grinning Captain Rodriguez, who gets entirely too preoccupied with Reardon's pajamas. Legendary costume designer Edith Head did her final work on this film, which is fitting since she did many of the costumes on the earlier films. The 1999 DVD unfortunately has no extras."
Great film, no-so-great features on DVD
Jose M. Garcia | Miami, FL USA | 04/26/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The DVD itself is great (considering the mishmash of source material), and so is the movie...HOWEVER...there are a ton of deleted scenes (which occasionally see the light of day whenever the USA Network runs this film) which are inexplicably left out of this DVD. Hopefully, one day somebody (Criterion...are you listening?) will snap to thir senses and include them.After all, aren't these sorts of things the rasons why we have DVD in the 1st place?"