->''"Guns don't kill detectives -- love does."''

''Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid'' is a 1982 parody of and homage to FilmNoir. Its central joke is the use of StockFootage from well-known '40s movies (mostly noirs, though the women's melodrama ''Humoresque'' somehow crept in) to construct editing gags in both visuals (skillful cutting, stand-ins, and identical sets and costumes bring modern actors into classic scenes) and dialogue (pre-existing lines are recontextualized to the point of bizarrerie).

It stars Creator/SteveMartin and Rachel Ward... and Creator/AvaGardner, and Creator/IngridBergman, and Creator/FredMacMurray, and so forth. And, when you think about it, was directed by Carl Reiner ... and Robert Siodmak, and Creator/AlfredHitchcock, and Creator/BillyWilder, and so forth. The film had the luck of hiring veteran costumer Edith Head, who also did the costumes from most of the original films used. She passed shortly after, and the film is affectionately dedicated to her memory and to the people who worked on the films of the 40s and 50s. As a coincidence, it was also the last feature film of composer Music/MiklosRozsa, who partly wrote music for scenes he had already scored 40 years before...

Most of the old-footage interactions are one-shots with characters who do not return. This was probably due to the limited number of potentially funny scenes in each of the source films, rather than a deliberate choice, but it actually manages to replicate the episodic, loosely-plotted feel of some low-budget noirs.

The Bogart and Ava Gardner characters ''do'' appear several times throughout the story. The final section, set in a South American village, is more unified than the rest of the film because all of its pre-existing footage comes from one movie (''The Bribe''), creating a consistent visual style and allowing the three imported characters (played by Gardner, Charles Laughton, and Creator/VincentPrice) to refer to one another by name.

Many scenes in the film contain no old footage; these advance the plot, such as it is, but their broad humor is at odds with the subtler editing gags.

!!This film provides examples of:

* AffectionateParody: Of film noir.
* AdventureRebuff: Juliet volunteers to spy for Rigby Reardon. He refuses telling her, "[[DyeOrDie You're not blonde enough]]".
* AlliterativeName: Rigby Reardon, Doris Devermont and going by pronunciation, Kitty Collins.
* ArsonMurderAndJaywalking: Juliet asks Reardon to quit investigating her father's death:
-->'''Rigby Reardon:''' Why? Because I've been roughed up a little?\\
'''Juliet Forrest:''' You've also been ''shot'', ''drugged''...and ''probably had to go to bed with women you didn't know''.
* BangBangBANG: Dated gun sound effects are used as part of the {{Homage}}
* BerserkButton: "Cleaning Woman! Cleaning Woman!! ''CLEANING WOMAN?!!!'' '''CLEANING WOMAN?!!!'''"
** Also the lack of ties.
* BloodlessCarnage: For a guy who is beaten up and shot three times, Rigby doesn't bleed much. Done as an {{Homage}} to old Hollywood movies.
* BrickJoke: Reardon's BerserkButton helps him defeat the BigBad in the end.
** "It's alright, it's only a bullet! My wife will suck it out later!"
* TheButlerDidIt: [[spoiler:It turns out the butler was an uncover Nazi officer and he was behind the entire plot of the film.]]
* ChekhovsSkill: Juliet's knowledge of the German language.
%%* ChekhovsGunman: [[spoiler:The Butler]]
* CloudCuckooLander: Juliet's sister Leona (actually Barbara Stanwyck in 1948's ''Sorry, Wrong Number''). Before Rigby phones Leona, Juliet warns him that Leona's "disturbed", and the film [[LampshadeHanging Lampshades]] its own use of stock footage by having Leona's dialogue obviously belong to a different film (she denies that her father is dead and is needlessly rude to Rigby.)
* ComedicSociopathy: Detective Reardon is a disturbed individual, only funny.
* ComicallySerious: Everyone in the film is this.
* CrapsackWorld: "It was a street of frustrated hopes and broken dreams. Everything was cheap, cut-rate. Even the prostitutes were having a sale."
%%* DeliberatelyMonochrome
* DisguisedInDrag: Rigby Reardon. Twice.
-->'''Juliet Forrest:''' I'm beginning to think you enjoy dressing up as a woman.
* DudeShesLikeInAComa: Rigby Reardon gropes Juliet just after she passes out, in the ''first scene of the movie''. PlayedForLaughs.
-->'''Juliet Forrest''': [''dazed but wary''] ...What are you doing?
-->'''Rigby Reardon''': [[BlatantLies ...Adjusting your breasts.]] You fainted and they shifted all out of whack.
** She gets him back at the end, though:
--->'''Rigby Reardon''': [''Juliet is groping inside his trousers''] What are you doing?
--->'''Juliet Forrest''': Adjusting your willy. When you fell through the window, it shifted out of whack.
* EveryManHasHisPrice: Naturally occurs in ''The Bribe'' scene.
-->'''Rigby Reardon:''' Sorry, but my price for leaving stinking towns is 11,500 and a kiss on the lips from Carmen Miranda.
** Reardon tries this in the ''I Walk Alone'' scene.
-->'''Rigby Reardon:''' What's he paying you boys? I'll double it and we'll beat the shit out of him.
* {{Fainting}}: In the opening scene, Juliet faints at the sight of a front page newspaper headline proclaiming her father's death. Reardon thinks she fainted because of the sports headline that read "Dodgers Lose Again".
** Reardon pretends to faint after he is shot by a gunman in Dr. Forrest's office. He faints for real once he reaches Julliette's house.
-->'''Butler:''' Are you all right? You look as though you're going to faint.
-->'''Rigby Reardon:''' Faint? Never...catch me.
-->'''Butler:''' Sorry. I'm a butler. Not a catcher.
* FakeShemp: Body doubles also help glue the film together.
* FilmNoir: Lots of 'em
%%* [[FollowThatCar Follow That Cab]]
* FunWithAcronyms: "But what does 'FOC' mean?"
-->'''Rigby Reardon:''' It's a slang word. It's when a man and a woman are in love, the man puts his...
-->'''Juliet Forrest:''' No, no. It's written here: "F. O. C."
-->'''Rigby Reardon:''' Unless I miss my guess, that stands for [[spoiler:"Friends Of Carlotta"]].
** SHH doesn't mean "be quiet". It actually stands for [[spoiler:Samuel H. Hastings]].
* GenderBlenderName: "When I arrived at Mr. Huberman's I was surprised. Mr. Huberman turned out to be a sexy dame who was throwing a party."
* GPSEvidence: Every single bit of evidence seems to have Reardon driving across town to interview somebody.
* GrandFinale: The film ended up coincidentally but awesomely being one for legendary costume designer Edith Head. It was the final film she worked on, and besides her original creations also features a lot of her earlier work in the clips.
* HardboiledDetective: Rigby Reardon, the lead character. It is a film noir after all.
* HollywoodHealing: See SuckOutThePoison
* {{Homage}}: To classic Hollywood FilmNoir. Also to Film/TheThreeStooges.
* ImADoctorNotAPlaceholder: "Sorry, I'm a butler, not a catcher."
* JustBetweenYouAndMe vs. TheSummation: The villain and the hero get into an argument over who gets to deliver the exposition of the villain's plot, invoking both of these tropes. They end up shouting them over each other.
* MistakenForGay: Juliet and [[Film/WhiteHeat Cody Jarrett]]'s mother kiss passionately as three prison guards look on. [[spoiler:They don't know that the mother is actually Rigby Reardon in disguise.]]
* NoodleIncident: "My last case I had to throw my own brother out of an airplane. Poor sap."
* OnlyAFleshWound: Reardon is shot in the arm repeatedly. [[RunningGag In the same exact spot.]]
* OverTheShoulder: The camera technique that makes most of the interactions possible.
* OverlyLongGag: Reardon's method for making "[[MustHaveCaffeine java]]." It goes on so long he himself gets bored.
* PrivateEyeMonologue: Parodied
--> '''Rigby Reardon''': On my way to the Firehouse place I tried not to think of Juliet Forest. I hadn't seen a body put together like that since I solved the case of the murdered girl with the big tits.
* ProductPlacement: Probably not. But in one scene, Reardon sings the old Barbasol shaving cream jingle.
** There's also a box of Brut cologne in Reardon's medicine cabinet.
* RuleOfThree: Reardon goes [[BerserkButton berserk]] and gets shot three times.
* SequelHook: Strictly a joke:
-->Little did I realize that less than a year later, she and I would have an even more exciting adventure, which is coming soon to your neighborhood theater -- with a possible nude scene by Juliet.
** (This is also an {{homage}} to Creator/JeanLucGodard's ''Bande à Part''.)
* SlippingAMickey: F X Huberman slips Reardon one.
* StockFootage: In this case, footage from well-known movies.
%%* StuffedIntoATrashcan
* SuckOutThePoison: Or the ''bullet'', in this case.
%%* [[spoiler:ThoseWackyNazis]]
%%* ThreeStoogesShoutOut
* ThrowAwayCountry: Terre Haute, Indiana. And they were just about to get a public library...
* TitleDrop: Marlowe told him the title as a complete non-sequitur.
-->'''Rigby Reardon:''' I still don't know what it means.
* WholesomeCrossdresser: Rigby is a little ''too'' insistent on taking female undercover jobs.
* XtremeKoolLetterz: "Carlotta was the kind of town where they spell trouble T-R-U-B-I-L. And if you try to correct them, they kill you".
* WhoWillBellTheCat: This happens at the end when Rigby holds up the Nazis.