Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid Reviews

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Super Reviewer
August 3, 2012
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.
Clintus M.
Super Reviewer
½ March 30, 2012
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.
Super Reviewer
September 6, 2010
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.
Super Reviewer
January 1, 2007
Luckily, this affectionate parody of Film Noir from Steve Martin was made deep, deep back in the mists of the dawn of time, when giant reptiles ruled the Earth and he was still funny. Cleverly splicing in sequences from several movie classics, it tells the story of Rigby Reardon, private eye on the trail of a Nazi conspiracy to destroy the United States with a particularly potent cheese. Reminiscent of a detective story version of Young Frankenstein, the style of classic Noir is faithfully recreated to the point of employing the talents of legendary designer Edith Head (this in fact was her final film). Rachel Ward is every inch the glamorous femme fatale and Martin plays it admirably straight, and the more surreal uses of the intercut scenes can be really funny. It doesn't quite have the legs to last the full 90 minutes, but it's always amusing and it's fun to spot the films Martin and Reiner "borrowed" from.
Super Reviewer
February 26, 2009
If you're a film noir fan or just a spoof fan in general, then this movie is right up your alley. Steve Martin plays a P.I. who falls for a beautiful client, whose case turns out to be more dangerous and complicated than he expected. Weaving together footage from 1940s film noir classics like Humoresque and Dark Victory incricately story-wise with the story that takes place in the film, it makes for a fun and inventive narrative with side-splitting laughs. Martin gives a fantastic comedic performance in the movie (I think I'll be screaming "Cleaning Woman?!" days from now). Rachel Ward is also great as the dame and Carl Reiner is terrific, as always. Shot in black and white, photographer Michael Chapman and production designer John De Cuir give this movie the classic style it needs, although it does suffer from some modern techniques of shooting, though I place no direct blame on the filmmakers because it is incredibly difficult to replicate 1940's film production and photography. The editing is adequate, but sometimes the excerpts from classics like The Bribe, The Postman Always Rings Twice and The Killers don't always fit into the edit, causing it to feel a little jarred and jerky. The movie moves along briskly, another fault of modern storytelling, but I couldn't tell how much they were actually trying to get in touch with that 1940's style, so I'll leave it alone. The score is fantastic. You could swear Max Steiner had a hand in it because of how bravura and classic it sounds. I found myself laughing out loud several times and really enjoying and reveling in the movie and at other times trying not to watch it with a critical eye. I'm sure it will please mostly film fans, but I urge people looking for laughs to check it out, as well.
Super Reviewer
August 4, 2007
A classic Steve Martin detective noir, which cleverly integrates clips from real classic movies to tell a coherent and funny story. I still laugh at the scene with the coffee bag.
Super Reviewer
November 12, 2006
One of two Steve Martin movies that are actually funny.
Super Reviewer
½ July 23, 2013
The concept for "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid" sounds interesting at first, but it gets old after the first couple of minutes. Overall, the film has its moments and can be funny, and Steve Martin is solid as Rigby Reardon, the lead detective investigating the case of a missing cheese maker, but even he can't totally save this one trick pony.
Super Reviewer
½ April 22, 2008
This is my favorite Steve Martin movie. I love old film noir, and in addition to being very, very funny, this film pays tribute to all those great mysteries from the '40s and '50s. The more you know about such films, the more you'll enjoy this movie. Just don't say "cleaning woman"...
½ October 14, 2013
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.
½ June 18, 2009
This is such an entertaining movie! Very cleverly done, and it even has flashes of brilliance. The editing incorporating old film clips into the story is superbly done. A lot of work went into fitting the story in with the classic clips, and for the most part it works very well. Always interesting, great fun. Steve martin does a great job. Good costume design and an excellent feel for the period. It certainly is imaginative.
½ March 27, 2010
Gimmicky homage to film noir

I'm wondering what was the point in actually making this movie. I'm sure it was a lot of fun for the filmmakers to blend Steve Martin into classic film noirs especially in terms of matching the sets, the stand-ins and the musical score. But such cleverness doesn't extend to the actual script which didn't have much of a story. Many of the scenes seemed completely extraneous to the plot, designed merely to show off the great actors of yesteryear. At best, Steve Martin's goofy humor is only mildly amusing at times. The best jokes are trotted out more than once (e.g. Rigby's 'cleaning woman' tantrum and Rachel Ward sucking out the bullet from Rigby's arm). But for the most part DMWNP is not funny at all. The main problem is that no real dramatic interplay develops in this story. Because the story is basically a gimmick, Steve Martin merely interacts with a bunch of film clips and is not pitted against any significantly developed antagonists. The "B" Story, the love story between Steven Martin and Rachel Ward is simply a collection of juvenile sexual innuendos (for example, when Martin grabs Ward's breasts in the opening scene). If you take away all of Steve Martin's silly asides, you're pretty much left with a standard by-the-numbers film noir, thoroughly mediocre and uninspired.
September 7, 2008
Amazing how they mixed the old movies into this movie the way they did, it's worth seeing just because of that.
½ April 13, 2009
I wouldn't have enjoyed this movie as much if I hadn't gone through a crapload of noir classics over the past year. All of that recent experience made this movie lots of funny. But in a TV sort of way - not a major motion picture way.
September 28, 2008
In order to enjoy this movie, I guess you really need to be a big fan of old detective movies. Perhaps then the jokes would actually be funny. The use of old movie clips was a good idea, but not being familiar with the original films, it lost its cleverness very quickly and completely consumed the film.
October 17, 2006
Great stuff. They way he Steve Martin interacts with the actors from different old classic films is nearly flawless.
½ May 27, 2007
I can't believe this film hasn't found an audience. It's so clever and funny. A really unique experience. Also it was the last film where Steve Martin was at the top of his game.
July 6, 2007
Film noir at it's funniest. This movie is so cleverly's awesome. The film editing is amazing.
½ June 28, 2007
An funny film and technical masterpiece, considering what had to be done to make it in the first place.
½ April 10, 2007
I loved the way the incorperated the older movies into this one with dialog and all intact. A fun movie for those who love the old black & white classics
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