Last night my wife and I watched Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, a Steve Martin movie from 1982. It’s a parody of film noir movies from the 1940s and 1950s.Some reviews criticize the plot as being too simple or too unbelievable or too formulaic. I can see the point, but this is a parody. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a single parody that had a plot that would have made Shakespeare jealous.
As entertainment, I think this movie is a home run. Even though the movie is about a murder investigation in which Martin’s character gets beat up a lot, it’s not a violent movie. There’s some double entendre in it, but not as much as you would see in a typical sitcom on network TV today. And I don’t think there’s any foul language in it either.
But more importantly, it’s funny, which is good, because that’s what it set out to be. I don’t want to give away the jokes, but the scene where Martin shows up with a puppy for a peace offering had me laughing longer and harder than I’ve laughed in years. And you’ll probably be able to watch the scene two or three times and notice something you didn’t notice the first time.
And if you’re a fan of old movies, you can have fun watching the old clips interspersed within and play guess-the-actor and guess-the-film with them.
If it sounds promising to you, buy it (used copies are pretty inexpensive online–around $5 plus shipping). Or the next time you’re in the mood for a movie and none of the new releases look good, give this oldie a spin.
But don’t blame me if you end up buying it.