Gumshoe (1971)

Gumshoe (1971)Synopsis:

Albert Finney (Tom Jones and The Dresser) plays Eddie Ginley, a nutty private dick with a Bogart complex who inadvertently gets embroiled in a web of murder and deceit.

Reaction & Thoughts:

Funny valentine to Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon and everything Bogie. If you aren’t familiar with the hard-boiled detective melodramas of the 1940s, specifically the ones Humphrey Bogart made at the height of his popularity, you’ll have a hard time identifying the in-jokes. Gumshoe, written by Neville Smith, and directed by Stephen Frears (The Queen and Philomena), is really a film for fans and fans alone.

Smith’s script has a blast poking fun at the clichés of the genre. I actually thought that the plot was a bit too thick (a nod to The Big Sleep?), but Finney is an absolute delight — he’s in almost every scene and he doesn’t disappoint. Finney skillfully squeezes fresh jokes out of tired situations; his performance alone is worth your time. He is mostly known for his serious dramas so it is a pleasant surprise to see Finney relax and have fun with the quirky situations.

Finney is surrounded by a fabulous cast that includes Frank Finlay (Othello) as Finney’s brother and Janice Rule (The Swimmer) as a mystery woman. Billie Whitelaw (The Omen) plays Finney’s sister-in-law. George Silver (Victor/Victoria) is particularly fun as he pokes fun at the great Sydney Greenstreet (The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca).

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s deliberately exaggerated music score is fabulous. Photographed by Oscar-winning cameraman Chris Menges (The Killing Fields and The Mission).

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Although I didn’t think it was as funny as other homages to classic detective films like Murder by Death (1976), The Cheap Detective (1978), and Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982), Gumshoe is a charming parody that will delight fans of the genre. Color, 85 minutes, Rated PG.

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