Movie Review: The Cheap Detective (1978)

Synopsis: As World War II breaks out in Europe, San Francisco private detective Lou Peckinpaugh finds himself accused of his partner's murder. In addition to trying to clear his name, he is hired to track down a valuable diamond necklace.

Who's in it? The movie stars Peter Falk, Ann-Margret, Eileen Brennan, Dom DeLuise and Madeline Kahn.

Review: I was scrolling through movies on YouTube TV the other day and came across this film. Since it sounded intriguing, I added it to my list and found time to watch it yesterday evening. Overall, I have to say the movie, which is a spoof of classic films like Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon, was entertaining.

I think the thing that really got my attention when watching this movie was the surprisingly long list of recognizable actors and actresses. Some of them, like Falk, Brennan and Kahn were in more prominent roles but even the minor characters had some familiar faces, such as David Ogden Stiers, Phil Silvers and Abe Vigoda. In fact, part of the reason I found myself watching this was to see how many of those faces I did recognize from other films or television.

The movie did also have a decent plot. As you probably already know, I like mysteries, and this film had a couple good ones. There was the obvious one surrrounding his partner's death but also some smaller ones, such as Mrs. Montenegro's (Kahn) real identity.

Having the movie play out at the same time Paris was being invaded by Germany was also a nice touch, especially since it did bring Peckinpaugh (Falk) directly into the path of a Nazi colonel (Nicol Williamson) and his crew, creating a bit of a wild card element. It was a movie that managed to remain unpredictable solely because the multiple plots meant pretty much anything could end up happening.

Final Opinion: This film has a great ensemble cast and an entertaining plot. If you haven't seen it, it's worth taking the time to do so.

My Grade: A


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