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Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982)


No Reviews Yet...

Release Date: May 21, 1982 Wide



liked it
Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 9,884

My Rating

Movie Info

In this post-modernist exercise, star/writer Steve Martin and director Carl Reiner spoof the film noir yarns of the '40s with Martin playing gumshoe Rigby Reardon, who interacts with a legion of Hollywood greats -- including Humphrey Bogart, Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster, Edward Arnold, Barbara Stanwyck, Ingrid Bergman, Veronica Lake, Bette Davis, Lana Turner and Joan Crawford -- in a succession of intercut clips from seventeen vintage Hollywood films. Rigby is a low-rent detective (his fee is


Mystery & Suspense, Comedy

George Gipe, Steve Martin

Mar 16, 1999

Universal Pictures

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All Critics (26) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (17) | Rotten (5) | DVD (1)

A parlor trick, but the kind -- an inquiring jester making his way through the ghosts of cinema's past -- that gets Godard at the Moviola to layer Histoire(s) together

September 6, 2009 Full Review Source: CinePassion

Hilarious and seamless!

November 2, 2004
7M Pictures

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid is a thoroughly entertaining spoof of Hollywood private eye movies.

February 4, 2004 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Too clever for its own good when it should be worried about being funny.

November 24, 2003
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Mainly for the noir geeks and the Steve Martin fans -- and I'm both.

July 27, 2002

Um filme de uma piada só.

May 31, 2002 Full Review Source: Cinema em Cena
Cinema em Cena

It makes my head spin to think how many viewing hours must have been spent in order to knit this story together

January 1, 2000 Full Review

This is Carl Reiner's cleverly adapted spoof on noir films of the post-World War 11 days.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews | Comment (1)
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid

An underrated Steve Martin classic, it's a bit much of a concept and surely goofy throughout, but it's wildly entertaining. Steve Martin portrays a gumshoe named Rigby Reardon, a noiresque detective on the case of a murdered man with the help of his daughter Juliet (Ward). Intercut in the fantastical story of Martin's character are scenes from classic mystery and noir films. Rigby himself has a very oddball approach to these characters, and there are several stand in body doubles to take on the backside persona of such greats as Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant, Burt Lancaster, and Veronica Lake. The writing for Martin's character into these elemental scenes is nothing short of positively goofy, but the tone is correct, the ambiance if you will. The language is the best part because though the noir metaphors are in the same category as everything else, it's all odd and willfully cool. My favorite idea was making the famous Philip Marlowe of the Raymond Chandler books and several films (played by Humphrey Bogart) into his willful stooge and incompetent hired hand; Watson to his Holmes. The first clip throws you off at first but eventually the change in sound, the obvious body doubles, and the funny give and take between the different films; it really is a guilty pleasure kind of experience. Though it's not an obvious winner and surely takes liberties, this film is a lot of fun in seeing the different icons on the screen as well as watching the ludicrous plot unfold one piece at a time.
August 3, 2012

Super Reviewer

This may be my favorite Steve Martin movie and one of my favorites ever. I consider it one of the funniest, most inventive films ever and years ahead of its time. As most of you know, this is a send-up or spoof of film noir detective movies interlacing live action with film clips. This is Forrest Gump meets Chinatown, sort of. The plot involves the mysterious death of a scientist and cheesemaker and subsequent investigation by Rigby Reardon (Martin) and his beautiful daughter (Ward). The story's actually only a setup for the brilliant and hilarious combination of movie clips and new footage.

Director and co-writer Carl Reiner worked with Steve Martin in The Jerk, and if you're a fan of that film, you'll love this one too. Gorgeous Rachel Ward is the bombshell here who plays it straight. She has great comedic timing. The films used for footage here include many of the greatest of the 1940s, including: Double Indemnity, The Big Sleep, Sorry Wrong Number, and The Postman Always Rings Twice. Humphrey Bogart (as Rigby's partner) plays a larger role than the other noir-era actors. Probably my favorite blended scene combines Martin (and a puppy) with Jimmie Sue Alfeld's father (Edward Arnold), "It's all soft and steamy" will leave you rolling in the aisle.

I can't get enough of the film noir era and its style, so "Dead Men" has enticed me to see many of the classic films that contributed clips here. Further stunting my development, I cannot hear the term "cleaning woman" without laughing. This was the last film for Oscar-winning designer Edith Head and composer Miklos Rozsa.

Sorry, Terre Haute, IN.
March 30, 2012
Clintus M.
Clintus Maximus

Super Reviewer

This film noir spoof takes footage from the old movies and mixes them with scenes of Steve Martin as a detective. It's very interesting to watch, and very funny too.
January 12, 2011

Super Reviewer

Slightly funny but not much. Good editing and clever idea, for the first five minutes that is, then it gets a bit boring!
September 23, 2009

Super Reviewer

    1. Rigby Reardon: Here's three bucks if you can get this cab to 46 Bay Court in ten minutes.
    2. Rigby Reardon: Follow that cab!
    – Submitted by Christopher B (13 months ago)
    1. Rigby Reardon: I always carry my harmonica: it's lighter than an accordion and more powerful than a sleeping pill.
    – Submitted by Christopher B (13 months ago)
    1. Juliet Forrest: We wouldn't have to have kids.
    – Submitted by Christopher B (13 months ago)
    1. Juliet Forrest: Oh, you poor dear. I don't blame you for strangling me - I'll never say it again.
    – Submitted by Christopher B (13 months ago)
    1. Rigby Reardon: Where'd you learn that?
    2. Juliet Forrest: At camp.
    3. Rigby Reardon: You learned that at girls' camp?
    4. Juliet Forrest: It's really for a snake bite, but I find it works for everything.
    – Submitted by Christopher B (13 months ago)
    1. Field Marshall Von Kluck: Sorry, I'm a butler not a catcher.
    – Submitted by Christopher B (13 months ago)
View all quotes (10)

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