The Cheap Detective, which might also be called Son of Casablanca, is a hilarious and loving takeoff on all 1940s Warner Bros private eye and foreign intrigue mellers.
The time is 1940, San Francisco, where clumsy gumshoe Peter Falk is accused of murdering his partner, whose wife Marsha Mason (in early Janet Leigh curls) has been Falk’s mistress. Detective Vic Tayback and assistants regularly blunder into matters.
Madeline Kahn, with as many smart clothes changes as aliases, appears in Falk’s office. She’s in league with John Houseman (Sydney Greenstreet to the core), Paul Williams (Elisha Cook Jr was never like this) and Dom DeLuise (a fat Peter Lorre) in search of ancient treasure – a dozen diamond eggs.
Amidst the confusing threads of mystery, Falk is regularly affronted by the overly explicit descriptions of sexual torture inflicted on all the dames. But at fadeout he’s got a lot more going for him than Bogart did in the final dissolve.