Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, 1982

Steve Martin stars in a 1940s-style film noir comedy. And even though it’s filmed in the classic film noir black and white, he doesn’t have his trademark white hair. He’s a handsome brown-haired detective looking for his client’s father’s killer. Since eighteen films from the 1940s are used in the story, Martin gets to have scenes with James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart among others. Names and places from those films are brought into this plot at odd angles. Comedic surprises abound.

This really isn’t a family-friendly film. I couldn't invite my kids to watch the comedy because of Rigby Reardon’s roaming hands. But aside from the crude humor, it’s really funny. If you’ve seen most of the eighteen films which make a brief appearance from time to time in this story, you may recognize the other films’ original intent and see how this story makes room for the mergers. The Steve Martin film makes the other films feel right at home somehow.

This is not an Oscar-winning film, like the others I reviewed this month, but it includes clips from seven (of the eighteen used in the story) films in which Edith Head had designed clothes. And this is Edith Head’s last film.

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