Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982)

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982), directed by Carl Reiner.

The best spoofs are made by people who appreciate and enjoy the original material. That's obviously the case with this mashup of 1940s noir and detective films.

It's more or less one joke, but a good one: while pursuing a ridiculous case for lovely client Rachel Ward, private eye Steve Martin enters into classic film clips and interacts with the old stars, always torquing the original plots and dialogue in a absurd direction.

Neither Martin nor Reiner have much natural comic restraint and I would have dialed back some of the wild and crazy silliness. Still, I laughed, though sometimes feeling about 12 years old. Cheap laughs are better than no laughs.

It's great revisiting these b&w classics. The wikipedia article lists the films and stars used. The ones I've reviewed include:

Last film for both costumer Edith Head (who contributed the title) and composer Miklos Rozsa who did many fine scores back in the day.

My thumbnails are from the 4:3 letterboxed DVD, although the quality is not bad for that type of disc. According to DVDCompare an anamorphic edition is only available in the "Steve Martin: The Wild and Crazy Comedy Collection" 2-disc set, which also contains The Jerk and The Lonely Guy.

[Later: available on Blu-ray].