The Singing Detective (2003)



Critic Consensus: Delightful performance from Robert Downey Jr. can't save The Singing Detective's transition from TV to the big screen.

Movie Info

Dan Dark gives new meaning to the term "scars of childhood." A hack writer of detective stories, he has suffered from psoriatic arthropathy, a crippling disease of the skin and bones, from the time he was eight-years-old. His latest and worst outbreak has landed him in the hospital where he deliriously tries to figure out who he is and how he got to this terrible place in his life. His fevered mind mingles real people with his fictional characters, and his past with his present. As his condition … More

Rating: R (for strong sexual content, language and some violence)
Genre: Drama, Musical & Performing Arts, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Dennis Potter
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 23, 2004
Box Office: $0.3M
Paramount Pictures - Official Site


as Nicola/Nina/Blonde

as Dr. Gibbon

as Mark Binney

as Nurse Mills

as First Hood

as Second Hood

as Betty Dark/Hooker

as Skin Specialist

as Chief of Staff

as Nurse Nozhki

as Young Dan Dark

as Moonglow Bartender

as Woman Physiotherapis...

as Visiting Japanese Do...

as Mr. Dark

as Solider with Betty D...

as Dark's Drummer

as Dark's Bass Player

as Dark's Guitar Player

as Dancer

as Dancer

as Dancer

as Dancer
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Critic Reviews for The Singing Detective

All Critics (115) | Top Critics (31)

The film's colorful song-and-dance set pieces rely on lip-synced '50s songs that are the weakest link in a bumbling but gregarious movie.

Full Review… | May 9, 2009

Inventive mess, filled with pock marks.

Full Review… | December 16, 2004
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

The first two thirds are a lot of fun and a showcase for Robert Downey Jr.'s immense talents.

Full Review… | August 22, 2004
Apollo Guide

The concept is clever, but the film's parts don't fit well and the main character is one of the least likable you'll find.

April 9, 2004

The Singing Detective is like a dream that you are still a little confused by when you wake up. It's not for everyone, but it's a fun ride if you dive in face first.

Full Review… | April 7, 2004
IGN Movies

Worth seeing on the basis of its cast alone, although the characters being played are often so impressionistic, even the superstar lineup ends up being a bit distracting.

Full Review… | February 2, 2004
Boston Herald

Audience Reviews for The Singing Detective


A great performance by Robert Downey Jr., an early Katie Holmes role and a small part played by a heavily made-up Mel Gibson do their best, but they don't save this film from its sheer weirdness. Four words: lip-synched ensemble musical numbers.

When it cut to action from the novel our hero (Downey Jr.) has written, I really liked the visual style, and overall, the story told in flashbacks is well-done, near-perfect noir, in fact; when it steps outside the frame, however, and tells the present day story - with the characters from the books interfering in some strange meta-fictional way - it loses its momentum, getting downright hammy in places.

And then, there are the musical numbers...

An ambitious film, but I'm not sure I mean it as a compliment; Joe Baltake probably said it best when he called this one an "interesting failure." Check it out, if for no other reason than this: it's different than most everything else you're watching.

Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer


This could have been amazing, but it fell short of an interesting story. The cast was good, but didn't really get to show off their talent due to the script. Mel Gibson's psychotherapist character was by far the best part. If it would've just been an actual noir homage then it would've been great.

Conner Rainwater

Super Reviewer

Complete madness...

Leigh Ryan

Super Reviewer

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