The Cheap Detective - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Cheap Detective Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ May 30, 2013
The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca are where this spoof/send-up begins, turning out little better than a lame Saturday Night Live skit (only running longer), but enjoyable for the charisma of its cast, obviously enjoying a chance at these familiar characters. Falk made a career out of playing a poor man's Bogie, and there's not enough Ann-Margret.
Super Reviewer
November 8, 2011
Peter Falk's typecasting as a noir detective was never more prominent than in the genre spoof The Cheap Detective. Borrowing heavily from the Humphrey Bogart classics of the past, the film also pays enormous homage to the genre itself while managing to be a great, smart comedy on its own. With a cast that includes Ann-Margaret, Eileen Brennan, Madeline Kahn, Sid Cesar, Dom DeLuise, Louise Fletcher, Paul Williams and Stockard Channing, the movie is so wonderfully colorful in its casting, depsite not being a particularly strong film. It is enjoyable and fun, but lacks the qualities of a perfected comedy classic.
Super Reviewer
September 6, 2010
Yet another detective spoof movie from the 70s?! Yep. Again, we have a fantastic all star cast, and a very funny story. I really liked this movie, even if it isn't very different from other movies like it.
½ December 29, 2013
Better received in 1978 than now when it seems too contrived.8/13/15 just rewatched-got a couple of chuckles ouit of this spoof of 'casablanca' and other Bogie pix
June 1, 2012
"Being a private eye may not be much, but we do have a code of honor. It's all right to fool around with your partner's wife, but once he's dead it makes it all so dirty. That's the way it is, angel. You marry yourself a nice guy, have a couple of swell kids. Once you're all set up and happy, maybe we can fool around again."
January 27, 2009
It doesn't speak well for this movie that an hour after I saw it, I can barely remember what happened in it. Neil Simon's dialogue is best suited to real characters with real personalities... in spoof, it becomes oddly larger-than-life. This movie seems so determined to be funny that it forgets to actually BE funny. It attempts too many take-offs on specific movies, rather than overall cliches and stereotypes, and just leads to silliness. And not the good kind. More looks of disdain than laughs here. Very disappointing.
September 17, 2006
The combined forces of Neil Simon and Peter "Columbo" Falk are hilarious in this parody that skewers both "The Maltese Falcon" and "Casablanca."
May 23, 2015
dumb. Simon's worst effort
March 22, 2015
Does not hold up to time.A few chuckles is all you get from this send up.
January 12, 2015
Even in a spoof, it's nice to have a plot.
January 11, 2014
An impressive cast put into a spoof of detective movies that left me feeling bored. The jokes are repeated constantly throughout the movie resulting in it not being funny after the first 20 minutes.
½ January 9, 2014
Helps greatly if you yourself are a fan of classic Hollywood films and are familiar with them, as the film is a pastiche of several well-known classics. Has a fun cast, and is good for a few chuckles.
½ July 24, 2008
½ October 25, 2010
A good and entertaining comedy.
September 13, 2008
This is the second movie I've seen with Peter Falk as Humphrey Bogart, the second Neil Simon movie involving the pair. I haven't seen it in a while, but as I remember, [i]Murder by Death[/i] is funnier. For one, there's no Truman Capote in this one, and Truman Capote's performance is so delightful in the other. For another, it's a one-joke movie, and the joke doesn't really last that long. It is a sad truth that no one seems to get--a parody, in order to truly work, must not stick too much to one specific target for too long. Further, you must choose your target wisely. If no one's going to care about your target in five years, odds are pretty good that no one cares about your movie now. There are exceptions--the Zuckers tend to do well in narrower parodies--but I don't think anyone's going to remember the latest spate of parody movies next year.

Floyd Merkle (Wally Berns) has been killed, leaving his partner, Lou Peckinpaugh (Falk), as the prime suspect. This isn't helped by the lovely widow Georgia (Marsha Mason), who swans around in black saying incriminating things in front of her police escort. There is also she of the many names (Madeline Kahn doing the Mary Astor role from [i]The Maltese Falcon[/i]), who may have killed Merkle and is definitely trying to enlist Peckinpaugh for something. Peckinpaugh (an obvious play on the director Sam Peckinpah) also has a long-lost love, Marlene DuChard (Louise Fletcher as Ingrid Bergman in [i]Casablanca[/i]) and a new-found love (I [i]think[/i] this is Eileen Brennan, but I can't figure out who she's supposed to be playing), Betty DeBoop (probably.) There's also Ann-Margret as the devilish Jezebel Dezire (Lauren Bacall from [i]The Big Sleep[/i]).

The parodies work as far as they go, and the filming, et cetera, aren't bad. Actually, some of the atmosphere is quite charmingly captured, though I think Marlene is a very bad Ilse. I also think a lot of their costumes are wrong. Of course, it's hard to get Humphrey Bogart's traditional Sam Spade garb wrong, and Peter Falk's been wearing variations of it in most of his career--where do you think Columbo gets that jacket? And certainly there's a star-studded cast, here. But it doesn't really work. I wish it did. But it doesn't.

The thing is, you have to keep track of this movie on two levels. On the one, there is what's happening in the movie. This is easier to lose track of, because one gets the impression that Simon doesn't care, either. It's all intended to play on those movies that we all know, which means it's starting to fail as fewer and fewer people really get into old Bogart movies. You'll notice that there's at least one that I didn't get, and there's probably more. I'm not sure if Stockard Channing's Bess is supposed to be anyone in particular, either. You see, he's passing out of the public conciousness, sad to say. Bogart was a better actor than a lot of people who are and will probably remain more popular than he--someone somewhere is [i]always[/i] watching a John Wayne movie, and AMC played [i]Planet of the Apes[/i] today--but ask yourself one thing. When was the last time [i]you[/i] watched [i]Casablanca[/i]?
½ December 11, 2007
The year 1940 is not turning out to be a good one for gumshoe Lou Peckinpaugh (Falk). His partner has been murdered and he's the prime suspect because he's been having an affair with his wife (Mason). But before he can clear his name, he first has to solve the mystery of some missing Albanian diamonds, stop the Nazi consule to Cincinatti (Williams) from destroying the French restraunt being run by the current husband (Lamas) of an old flame (Fletcher), and avoid gett too entangled with overheated vamps (Kahn and Brennan) or his demure secretary (Channing).

"The Cheap Detective" is a spoof of hardboiled detective tales and the film noir pictures from the 1940s and 1950s, and it plays as though the script emerged after someone tossed the movies "The Maltese Falcon" and "Casablanca", a collection of the Complete Works of Dashell Hammett, and some copies of MAD Magazine into a blender set on high.

The result is a hilarious, but uneven, movie that's loaded with absurd situations, rediculous puns, and a crazy, chaotic storyline that anticipates comedies like "Airplane" and "The Naked Gun". If you're a fan of those movies, you're bound to enjoy this one. The film starts weak--with a gag involving a killer so efficient his victims don't even fall down when they die streteched so thin in loses all comedy value--and ends with a nonsensical and unfunny scene that seems to exist only to fit in one more cameo, but almost everything between the two badly done bookends is great stuff.

You're also bound to enjoy "The Cheap Detective" if you love the movies and the actors being spoofed. Peter Falk in particular is hilarious with his very effective Humphrey Bogart imitation, but Louise Fletcher's Ingrid Bergman is also great fun, as is Ann-Margaret's generic oversexed femme fatale and Nicol Willams. Much credit also goes, of course, to Neil Simon for the absurd dialogue and even more absurd situations.

Whether you're a fan of classic detective films and the film noir genre, or whether you simply enjoy crazy comedies, I think you'll find something to laugh about in "The Cheap Detective".

The Cheap Detective
Starring: Peter Falk, Louise Fletcher, Madeline Kahn, Marsha Mason, Eileen Brennan, James Coco, Ann-Margaret, Ferndando Lamas, Dom Deluise, John Houseman, Nicol Williams, and Stockard Channing, and Sid Ceaser
Director: Robert Moore
October 12, 2007
"The Cheap Detective" is a hardboiled detective comedy film written by Neil Simon. Specifically, it borrows a lot of its plot from "Casablanca" (1942) and "The Maltese Falcon" (1941). There are a few references to "Chinatown" (1974) as well and most importantly a lot of humor injected in.

Peter Falk effectively plays Lou Peckinpaugh as a humorous send-up of Sam Spade and Rick Blaine. I enjoyed the other performances as well, particularly Nicol Williamson as a character parodying Major Strasser from "Casablanca" and John Houseman playing a character very similar to Kasper Gutman from "The Maltese Falcon". The only character that could have been better was Pepe Damascus, in a Peter Lorre type role, played by Dom DeLuise.

This film is funny in several respects. The dialogue is amusing and often emulates and parodies the snappy dialogue of "Casablanca" and "The Maltese Falcon". Since the plot is cobbled together largely from those movies, there are a number of scenes like a humorous modification of the "La Marseillaise" scene from "Casablanca". Simon added a number of amusing complexities, sometimes nonsensical, into the script as a parody of the complexities in "The Maltese Falcon". Overall this film was consistently funny from start to finish. I recommend "The Cheap Detective" as a satire for people that enjoyed "Casablanca" and "The Maltese Falcon".
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