Lensed in black-and-white and outfitted with a ‘straight’ mystery score by Miklos Rozsa and authentic 1940s costumes by Edith Head, this spoof of film noir detective yarns sees Steve Martin interacting with 18 Hollywood greats by way of intercutting of clips from some 17 old pictures.
Thus, when sultry, Rachel Ward enters his seedy LA office to discuss her father’s murder, $10-per-day sleuth Martin is able to call Bogart’s Philip Marlowe for assistance on the case. And so it goes with such additional tough guys as Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas and Edward Arnold and such dames as Barbara Stanwyck, Ingrid Bergman, Veronica Lake, Bette Davis, Lana Turner and Joan Crawford.
Film is most engaging in its romantic sparring between Martin and his gorgeous client, Ward. Latter looks sensational in period garb and is not above such Martinesque gags as removing bullets from his wounds with her teeth or having her breasts ‘rearranged’ by the hardboiled detective.
Sporting dark hair and facetious confidence, Martin also looks spiffy in trenchcoat and hat. Only other roles off note see Carl Reiner essentially essaying Otto Preminger as a Nazi, and Reni Santoni as a zealous Peruvian offficer.