Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid [1982]

This is one of the best parodies of the '40s hardboiled detective genre, with a very clever conceit: weaving the plot and production design around memorable movie clips (The Killers, The Big Sleep, Double Indemnity, The Lost Weekend, White Heat, This Gun for Hire, Sorry, Wrong Number, Notorious). Steve Martin plays the cool Rigby Reardon, who tries solving an incomprehensible mystery with the assistance of Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Burt Lancaster, Fred MacMurray, Ingrid Bergman, and Ray Milland, among others. It's all silly hokum with Rachel Ward as the pretty moll and director-cowriter Carl Reiner as the nefarious villain. Miklos Rozsa takes us back to yesteryear with his lush score, and, fittingly, Edith Head handles the period costumes in her final production. --Bill Desowitz

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