Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid

Discussion in 'The Moving Picture' started by Andykev, Nov 10, 2004.

  1. Andykev

    Andykev I'll Lock Up Bartender

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    Wonderful movie.

    Plot Summary for
    Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982)

    Juliet Forrest (Rachel Ward) is convinced that the reported death of her father in a mountain car crash was no accident. Her father was a prominent cheese scientist working on a secret recipe. To prove it was murder, she enlists the services of private eye Rigby Reardon (Steve Martin). Searching for answers, Rigby encounters dangerous men and women, and assorted low-lives who were the hallmarks of the classic detective movies of the 40's and 50's. The main clues which he finds over and over comes from slips of paper containing lists of people who are either friends of Carlotta or enemies of Carlotta. Filming in black and white allows the use of scenes from the old movies and cuts them in with the actors in this film. It is through this process that Rigby's assistant is none other than Marlowe himself (Humphrey Bogart).


    This was a great movie! I have it on VHS and it is a riot.

    Another one of similar comedy is "The Man with Bogarts' Face"

    It has George Raft in it!
     
  2. Rigby Reardon

    Rigby Reardon One of the Regulars

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    TCM has a GREAT article on the background of the movie

    Sorry to punt an old thread, but I came across this trivia tonight, and figured it was worth it.

    Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid will be playing on TCM on 12/11/05...but even more interesting is the article in the posting, and the relationship of this movie to old classic film noir detective movies - and the people who made them, especially one specific costumer...

    Since this stuff comes and goes, I'm excerpting the overview and two paragraphs of specific interest to old films here, and one last one for the filmmakers in the audience. ;)

    If the link goes bad, send me a PM if you want the rest of the article, I've downloaded it. It includes - believe it or not - the explanation of what 'Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid' means, but was cut from the final version of the movie!:clap

    J
    -----------
    http://www.turnerclassicmovies.com/ThisMonth/Article/0,,103616|103617|29972,00.html

    In 1982, Carl Reiner and Steve Martin unveiled their latest collaboration. The second of four films together, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid would take the concept of collaboration to a new level, with the intersplicing of scenes from eighteen classic detective/film noir thrillers into the narrative. The story of a private detective, played by Martin, trying to solve the case of his beautiful client while falling in love with her, alternately spoofs and pays homage to the film noir genre. In order to pull it off, a special kind of production crew was needed. Luckily, Reiner and Martin assembled a highly skilled group known for their technical expertise; in fact, many of them had worked on the original films featured in Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid.

    The most notable of these artisans was Edith Head; to date, she is the most honored woman and costume designer in Academy Award history. Head was nominated for thirty-four Oscars and won eight for such films as A Place in the Sun (1951) and Roman Holiday (1953). Head was even more well-suited for the job in Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid: she was the costume designer for six of the eighteen films featured within the picture, including Notorious (1946) and Sorry, Wrong Number (1948). Speaking of well-suited, Head would outfit Martin with twenty suits during production, each painstakingly rendered and executed to assimilate seamlessly into the classic action. With her death in 1981, Dead Men would be Head's last film; the film's dedication was made in part to her.

    [...]

    As the production designer, John DeCuir also had his work cut out for him: due to the many different scenes from all the clips, over eighty-five sets were created - much more than an average film would require. During his research and scouting searches, DeCuir found the actual train compartment used in Suspicion (1941) with Cary Grant - this set piece would be used in the scenes featuring Martin interacting with Grant, a touch that helped to increase the realism of the action.

    [...]

    However, the film owes its top-notch presentation not only to the editing, but to the clever camera techniques employed in production. Without the resources such as blue screen technology and computer animation that are available today, Dead Men relied on specific camera vantage points and precise perspective filming. Many of the films of the forties and fifties favored camera views shooting over the shoulder of characters - this trend enabled Dead Men's production team to replicate the set-up of the shot, with a stand-in posing as the shoulder with Martin in full view. Another technique used was filming Martin in front of a screen on which the classic film was projected; with the proper perspective and angles in place, the two films effectively merged for the viewer. The Suspicion scene with Grant is an example of this method, and the original set piece helped to add to the authenticity.

    [...]
     
  3. MK

    MK Founder Staff Member Bartender

    .

    I saw this movie in the theater when it first ran and have little memory of it. That was before my love for the golden era. I haven't watched it again because I had written it off as a cheesy movie. I am not a fan of Steve Martin's work either...but you have made me re-think this one with your tid-bits of the film. I will have to rent it.
     
  4. Doctor Strange

    Doctor Strange I'll Lock Up

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    I watched it on TCM last month, for the first time since I saw it in theaters during its initial run. Carl Reiner is definitely a comic genius (I mean, The Dick Van Dyke Show!), but this film is a half-baked trifle. It's a scattershot, cheesy, too-long skit that runs out of steam long before the end... But I was struck by too things: how well done the intercutting and lighting/photography is, and how restrained Martin's performance is. It's really a very subtle and controlled performance from a guy who, back then, in the era of "The Jerk", was widely viewed as a comedian rather than a comic actor. And yeah, the costumes are sweet.

    It's a must-see if you haven't seen it, but keep your expectations low: it's really a one-joke idea, not in the same league as Woody Allen's smarter, somewhat similar projects of the same period (Zelig, The Purple Rose of Cairo, etc.)
     
  5. Rigby Reardon

    Rigby Reardon One of the Regulars

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    The Purple Rose Of Cairo is definitely superior, but what struck me when I reread this is that even though I too saw it when it came out, and recall 'mostly' liking it, in my head I'd written it off as one of those movies 'I like, wife doesn't', and as a guilty pleasure. The review made me think about the content again, and I recalled how seamlessly it blended as well. The only ones that seem abrupt are intentionally abrupt, like the cut in of Veronica Lake. ;) (Not spoiling it since this movie is so old the jokes have been forgotten.)
     
  6. DanielJones

    DanielJones I'll Lock Up

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    Plaid is back...

    I have this one on DVD now. Used to have it on VHS but it got consumed. I love the references to the classic films like THIS GUN FOR HIRE, WHITE HEAT, DOUBLE INDEMNITY, THE KILLERS, THE BIG SLEEP, DARK PASSAGE, IN A LONELY PLACE, SUSPICION and, most notably, THE BRIBE. they did a wonderful job blending it all together. Yes, the story was a little corny, but that's what makes a great spoof.

    Cheers!

    Dan
     
  7. BellyTank

    BellyTank I'll Lock Up

    Pennies from Heaven?

    Speaking of Steve Martin...

    I liked Steve Martin in 'Pennies from Heaven', with the gorgeous Bernadette Peters.
    The British one was better, I guess but I liked the US one- especially Christopher Walkens dancing-
    striptease on the tables and bar top.
    Quite a mover, that Walken...
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    'The Jerk' is a Comedy Masterclass-

    B
    T
     
  8. shamus

    shamus Suspended

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    The sound track is good. I have the 33 1/3 version (promo) version. I'm not sure if it's been released on cd.
     
  9. zeus36

    zeus36 A-List Customer

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    Here is an old post from this forum for the movie:

    http://www.thefedoralounge.com/showthread.php?t=3261
     
  10. Rigby Reardon

    Rigby Reardon One of the Regulars

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    Thanks for linking that, Zeus...I missed that. Ironically, I found and downloaded all those same movie stills...got several other avatars ready to go, in addition to the puppy shot. ;)

    (Interestingly, Jake's post predated THAT one by 6 months as well...so he was right, seems like there hadn't been one there yet.;) My bad for resurrecting an old thread.:rolleyes: )
     
  11. Mr. 'H'

    Mr. 'H' Call Me a Cab

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    Hi RR,

    I thought you avater was quite funny and I knew I had discussed this movie a while back....

    Mr. 'H'.
     
  12. Rigby Reardon

    Rigby Reardon One of the Regulars

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    Hey, thanks, Mr. 'H'. I refrained from using the poster version, which is the same pic but w/ the words, "Laugh or I'll shoot your lips off"...thought I'd warm up slowly... ;)

    J
     
  13. Thursby

    Thursby New in Town

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    Great FIlm

    Thought that was a great film, and it was on the other week to. Very clever film, and funny. :clap
     
  14. Feraud

    Feraud Bartender

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    Great film that 'Dead Men'! Saw it when I was a kid and loved it. My brothers and I grew up on a diet of gangster films(thanks dad) and this was a refreshing break(for 12 yr. olds) to see Bogie, Cagney, Lancaster, Ladd, etc. in a goofy film.
    We really got a kick out of it.
    I should introduce my son to this movie.
     
  15. Clyde R.

    Clyde R. One of the Regulars

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    I found this thread from November on "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid" and thought I'd comment. I saw this movie when it came out and loved it. I was already a golden era fan back then, and a fan of noir and private eye flicks. What amazes me is how -relatively- well it still holds up. As a spoof, it doesn't aspire to high art, but it is very well done. As someone else said, Martin's performance is remarkably restrained and overall I think the movie does a good job of poking fun while paying homage to the great Noirs. One thing I have noticed is that I've seen a lot more of the classics the film is intercut with now versus back when it was originally released. I think it adds to my appreciation of the movie. Thanks to Rigby Reardon for posting the link to the article on "Dead Men" as it was very interesting to anyone who is a fan of this flick. I think if you are a fan of the old hard-boiled detective movies or Noirs, it is definitely worth a watch if you haven't seen it lately. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I think for most Fedora Loungers it would be a hit. The costumes really are amazing.
     
  16. Rigby Reardon

    Rigby Reardon One of the Regulars

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    Thanks for the nod, Clyde. :cool:

    For anyone who has a Fry's Electronics near them (you Californians in specific), they've been carrying Dead Mean in their assortment of stocked movies - I've found it and bought it there twice now (one an Xmas present) for $7! There's only ever ONE on the shelf though...so I have to come back a month later to find they'd restocked it. :rolleyes:

    In case anyone was looking... ;)
     

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