March 20th, 2013: Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid

Cast and Crew:  Miklos Rozsa (Score); Edith Head (Costumes); Alan Ladd, Barbara Stanwyck, Ray Milland, Ava Gardner, Burt Lancaster, Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Veronica Lake, Bette Davis, Lana Turner, Kirk Douglas, Fred MacMurray, James Cagney, Charles Laughton, Joan Crawford, Reni Santori, Vincent Price, William Conrad, Jeff Corey, Brian Donlevy, Edmond O’Brien

What It’s About: Detective Rigby Reardon (Steve Martin) takes a case from Juliet Forrest (Rachel Ward), a beautiful dame who wants to know what really happened to her father, whose death she doesn’t believe was an accident.  Reardon uncovers a sinister plot, but can he sort it all out and survive?

Why Watch it Today?:  Writer/director Carl Reiner celebrates his 91st birthday today.  Reiner’s long and varied career included parts on Broadway, in films and television, writing for Sid Caesar’s shows in the 1950s, creating and writing the Dick Van Dyke Show in the 1960s, and finally directing feature films, most notably his collaborations with Steve Martin.  Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid is a perfectly executed noir homage/parody that inserts Steve Martin and the rest of the modern cast into scenes taken from 19 classic film noir and crime films, including The Big Sleep, The Lost Weekend, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Notorious, White Heat, and Sorry, Wrong Number.  Reiner uses the older footage expertly, and the film functions as an excellent introduction to some of the big actors and films of the 1940s.  Certainly it did so for me, in fact, looking at the list of films there are still a few I need to see that I haven’t!

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