The Cheap Detective (1978)



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Movie Info

Playwright Neil Simon tries his hand at film parody in The Cheap Detective, sending up the private genre of the 1940s --The Maltese Falcon in particular. Peter Falk is Lou Peckinpaugh, a trenchcoated nincompoop with a Humphrey Bogart accent, who finds himself accused of killing his partner, with whose wife Georgia Merkle (Marsha Mason) he has been having an affair. Amidst this confusion, the sultry Mrs. Montenegro (Madeline Khan) stumbles into Lou's office. She is searching for an ancient treasure --a dozen diamond eggs. Soon Lou finds himself having to deal with a collection of unsavory characters --Jasper Blubber (John Houseman), "The Boy" (Paul Williams), Pepe Damascus (Dom DeLuise)-- who are also looking for the diamond eggs.

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Peter Falk
as Lou Peckinpaugh
as Jezebel Dezire
Eileen Brennan
as Betty DeBoop
Sid Caesar
as Ezra Dezire
James Coco
as Marcel
Dom DeLuise
as Pepe Damascus
Louise Fletcher
as Marlene DuChard
John Houseman
as Jasper Blubber
Madeline Kahn
as Mrs. Montenegro
Fernando Lamas
as Paul DuChard
Marsha Mason
as Georgia Merkle
Abe Vigoda
as Sgt. Rizzuto
Nicol Williamson
as Col. Schissel
Emory Bass
as Butler
Carmine Caridi
as Sgt. Crosseti
Vic Tayback
as Lt. DiMaggio
Carole Wells
as Hat-Check Girl
John Calvin
as Qvicker
Barry Michlin
as Bandleader
Zale Kessler
as Courier
Bella Bruck
as Scrub Woman
Henry Sutton
as Desk Clerk
Joe Ross
as Michel
Dean Perry
as Cab Driver
George Rondo
as Cab Driver
Louis H. Kelly
as Croupier #1
Charles A. Bastin
as Croupier #2
Charles Bastin
as Croupier #2
Gary L. Dyer
as Man in Crusades Bar
Steven Fisher
as Man in Crusades Bar
Laurie Hagen
as Elegant Lady
Wally K. Berns
as Floyd Merkle
Lee Menning
as Elegant Lady
Nancy Warren
as Elegant Lady
Nancy Marlowe Coyne
as Lady of the Night
Lynn Griffis
as Lady of the Night
Paula Friel
as Military Wife
Sheila Sisco
as Military Wife
Lauren Simon
as Military Wife
Cindy Lang
as Navy Wife
Tina Ritt
as Army Wife
David Matthau
as Military Man
Gary Alexander
as Military Man
George Simmons
as Detective
Joree Sirianni
as Cigarette Girl
Cornell Chulay
as German Singer
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Critic Reviews for The Cheap Detective

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (1)

If you loved The Maltese Falcon and can recite all the best lines from Casablanca by heart, you'll hate The Cheap Detective, which is basically just the year's classiest and most expensive rip-off.

Jun 15, 2018 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Disappointing thin comedy.

May 30, 2017 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…

Better received in 1978 than now when it seems too contrived.

Dec 19, 2005 | Rating: 3/5

Very funny send-up of the hard-boiled detective genre.

Nov 20, 2003 | Rating: 4/5

Not even in the same galaxy as Neil Simon's best work, but fans of the genre will appreciate the gags.

Jul 26, 2002 | Rating: 3/5

You don't have to be familiar with Casablanca or The Maltese Falcon to appreciate the humor but it helps. Writer Neil Simon has thoroughly spoofed both classics.

Dec 11, 2001 | Rating: 8/10

Audience Reviews for The Cheap Detective


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.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

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.

Tim Salmons
Tim Salmons

Super Reviewer

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.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

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