The Cheap Detective | Chicago Reader

The Cheap Detective

Neil Simon's simultaneous parody of The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca is slightly wittier than the film it was cloned from, Murder by Death. And thanks to John Alonzo's yellowing cinematography (the same he applied to Chinatown), it's a handsome and fairly atmospheric production. Still, a spoof is a spoof, and this random collection of one-liners and purposefully flat characters is engaging only on the most superficial level. An hour later you'll want to see a real movie. With Peter Falk, mumbling through his Bogart impression, and a walk-on cast that includes Ann-Margret, Sid Caesar, Louise Fletcher, and Nicol Williamson. Robert Moore directed—his timing isn't up to Simon's, and several laughs are muffed in the process (1978).

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