Peeper is flimsy whimsy. In the can for a year after being made under the title Fat Chance, director Peter Hyams’ limp spoof of a 1940s private-eye film stars Michael Caine as a fumbling gumshoe and Natalie Wood as a member of a mysterious wealthy family. Even in the cutdown 87-minute release version, the extremely handsome production shows far more care in physical details than artistic ones.
Keith Laumer’s novel Deadfall (not to be confused with a 1968 Bryan Forbes film of that name, coincidentally starring Caine) was altered in tone and time by scripter W.D. Richter. Mimic artist Guy Marks opens the film by a Humphrey Bogart reading of the main credits over footage of a mysterious figure in an alley.
Story gets underway with Michael Constantine hiring Caine to find his long lost daughter so she will get his money. But comic assassins Timothy Agoglia Carey and Don Calfa keep popping up doing bad numbers on people.
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Caine’s search involves him with the odd Prendergast family, where bedridden neurotic mother Dorothy Adams, daughters Wood and Kitty Winn (one of whom may be Constantine’s kid), and uncle Thayer David and household fixture Liam Dunn complicate the plot.