Film / The Cheap Detective

The Cheap Detective is a 1978 American comedy-mystery film written by Neil Simon and directed by Robert Moore. It is a follow-up and Spiritual Sequel to Simon and Moore's earlier film, Murder by Death.

It stars Peter Falk as Lou Peckinpaugh, a detective in the Humphrey Bogart mold. As in Murder by Death, there's no shortage of comedic icons to share the spotlight. The film is an Affectionate Parody of Bogart movies such as Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon, but manages to get a few shots in at the Film Noir genre in general.

Floyd Merkle, Private Eye, is found dead— killed so abruptly that he didn't even have time to fall down. It's up to his partner, Lou, to solve Merkle's last case, prove his own innocence, outwit the Nazis, and find the greatest lost treasure of all time— all while dealing with the strangest people ever to loiter on a San Francisco street on a dark, rainy night...

This film contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Affectionate Parody: Definitely. The more you love Noir and Bogart films, the more you'll love this movie.
  • The Chanteuse: Eileen Brennan as Miss Betty DeBoop.
  • Locked into Strangeness: Parodied. Miss Montenegro once dropped a live electrical wire in Pepe Damascus's bathtub. He survived, but with extremely curly hair.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Lou is either pursued by or has a romantic history with half a dozen women over the course of the film: Georgia Merkle, widow of his murdered partner; Betty DeBoop, nightclub singer; "Mrs Montenegro", a woman of dozens of aliases (and hair colours); Marlene DuChard, resistance hero's wife and former lover of Lou's; Jezebel Dezire, Femme Fatale; and Bess, his secretary and Girl Friday. At the end of the film, he ends up with all of them - except Georgia, who goes to jail for the murder of her husband and five other people.note 
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Colonel Schlissel and his henchmen.
  • Who's on First?: Colonel Shlissel's subordinates are named Qvicker and Schnell. Guess what happens when he tries to make a cab go faster?