The Cheap Detective Reviews
* ver murdered by murder tambien
Floyd Merkle (Wally Berns) has been killed, leaving his partner, Lou Peckinpaugh (Falk), as the prime suspect. This isn't helped by the lovely widow Georgia (Marsha Mason), who swans around in black saying incriminating things in front of her police escort. There is also she of the many names (Madeline Kahn doing the Mary Astor role from [i]The Maltese Falcon[/i]), who may have killed Merkle and is definitely trying to enlist Peckinpaugh for something. Peckinpaugh (an obvious play on the director Sam Peckinpah) also has a long-lost love, Marlene DuChard (Louise Fletcher as Ingrid Bergman in [i]Casablanca[/i]) and a new-found love (I [i]think[/i] this is Eileen Brennan, but I can't figure out who she's supposed to be playing), Betty DeBoop (probably.) There's also Ann-Margret as the devilish Jezebel Dezire (Lauren Bacall from [i]The Big Sleep[/i]).
The parodies work as far as they go, and the filming, et cetera, aren't bad. Actually, some of the atmosphere is quite charmingly captured, though I think Marlene is a very bad Ilse. I also think a lot of their costumes are wrong. Of course, it's hard to get Humphrey Bogart's traditional Sam Spade garb wrong, and Peter Falk's been wearing variations of it in most of his career--where do you think Columbo gets that jacket? And certainly there's a star-studded cast, here. But it doesn't really work. I wish it did. But it doesn't.
The thing is, you have to keep track of this movie on two levels. On the one, there is what's happening in the movie. This is easier to lose track of, because one gets the impression that Simon doesn't care, either. It's all intended to play on those movies that we all know, which means it's starting to fail as fewer and fewer people really get into old Bogart movies. You'll notice that there's at least one that I didn't get, and there's probably more. I'm not sure if Stockard Channing's Bess is supposed to be anyone in particular, either. You see, he's passing out of the public conciousness, sad to say. Bogart was a better actor than a lot of people who are and will probably remain more popular than he--someone somewhere is [i]always[/i] watching a John Wayne movie, and AMC played [i]Planet of the Apes[/i] today--but ask yourself one thing. When was the last time [i]you[/i] watched [i]Casablanca[/i]?