Director: Carl Reiner
Running Time: 1 hour, 28 minutes
Private investigator Rigby Reardon (Steve Martin) is hired by Juliet Forrest (Rachel Ward) to investigate the recent death of her father, which she believes was no accident.
"Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid" is a film-noir parody directed by Carl Reiner, who also wrote the film along with Steve Martin and George Gipe. It stars Steve Martin as private investigator Rigby Reardon. Rigby is hired by Juliet Forrest, played by Rachel Ward, to investigate the death of her father that the police have ruled an accident, but she believes to have a far more sinister cause. This comedy takes a new story and intertwines it with scenes from old movies. Steve Martin gets inserted into scenes with the likes of Barbara Stanwyck, Ray Milland, Burt Lancaster, Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Bette Davis, Lana Turner, and James Cagney, just to name a few. Reiner and co. manage to create a mostly cohesive story by integrating the original scenes with classic ones in an interesting approach to a modern film-noir.
Having Steve Martin spout off mostly silly lines of dialogue which will ultimately be answered with a random line from a character in one of the borrowed scenes from classic cinema is actually really inventive, and mostly, it works out in their favor. We really appreciate the effort it took to splice all these classics together and have it make any sort of sense. Steve Martin does a good job with his goofy shtick and brings the laughs quite often, though it can get a little repetitive at times. Luckily, his character Rigby Reardon is absolutely hilarious in his dopey, sarcastic comedy. The story they create is fun, albeit ridiculous. We won't say the blending of new and old is seamless, because it's not. Oftentimes, the exchanges of dialogue really stretch to make them work.
In the end, "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid" is a stylish film-noir with an inventive premise in a fairly entertaining film. There is an interesting mix of old school clips and inserted present day people in them. It's sort of ridiculous, but it's also a lot of fun.
My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 77%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?