The Cheap Detective (1978)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Cheap Detective Photos

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.
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Columbia Pictures

Watch it now


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
James Cromwell
as Schnell
Vic Tayback
as Lt. DiMaggio
Carole Wells
as Hat-Check Girl
John Calvin
as Qvicker
Barry Michlin
as Bandleader
Lee McLaughlin
as Fat Man
Zale Kessler
as Courier
Jerrold Ziman
as Courier
Bella Bruck
as Scrub Woman
Henry Sutton
as Desk Clerk
Maurice Marks
as Doorman
Joe Ross
as Michel
Dean Perry
as Cab Driver
Joe E. Ross
as Michel
George Rondo
as Cab Driver
Ronald L. Schwary
as Cab Driver
Louis H. Kelly
as Croupier #1
Charles Bastin
as Croupier #2
Charles A. Bastin
as Croupier #2
Armando Gonzales
as Bartender
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
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Cheap Detective

All Critics (12)

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

December 19, 2005

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

November 20, 2003
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

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

July 25, 2002

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.

December 11, 2001
Movie Metropolis

Quote not available.

June 17, 2005

Quote not available.

October 31, 2003
Movie Mom at Yahoo! Movies

Audience Reviews for The Cheap Detective

I thought that this film was hilarious. I thought that it was well written dialog and the jokes were well done. I liked the opening credits, sets, decor, costumes, and music which were well done for this film. This film is made up of a lot of actors from 60's through 90's. I also liked how he would get out of not paying the cab driver each time he takes a taxi ride. The Nazi's in this film were funny too. I like the bar scene when everyone sings like the Germans sing their national anthem and everyone else then starts to sing. I love how the film ended with him riding with all the girls from the film and was able to get rid of the one that was his partners wife. I love how everyone who gets shot stays still in the position they were standing in when they were shot.


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

The Cheap Detective Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss The Cheap Detective on our Movie forum!

News & Features