THE CHEAP DETECTIVE
2011, Sony Repertory (Columbia), 92 min, USA, Dir: Robert Moore

In this follow-up to MURDER BY DEATH, Peter Falk stars as Lou Peckinpaugh, a penny-pinching private eye trying to stay ahead of the police as he tracks down his partner’s killer and some missing diamonds in 1940s San Francisco. This loving parody of film noir - and Bogart movies in particular - rounds up all sorts of usual suspects, including Ann-Margret, Eileen Brennan, Sid Caesar, Madeline Kahn, Dom DeLuise, Stockard Channing and Louise Fletcher, to play the assorted femmes fatale, fall-guys, cops and crooks peopling Neil Simon’s gag-filled screenplay.


MURDER BY DEATH
1976, Sony Repertory (Columbia), 94 min, USA, Dir: Robert Moore

Eccentric millionaire Truman Capote invites six of the world’s greatest detectives to his mansion for “dinner and a murder.” When the sleuths (Peter Sellers, David Niven, Maggie Smith, James Coco, Peter Falk and Elsa Lanchester) arrive and discover that the host is the apparent victim, they attempt to solve the puzzle and survive the evening themselves. Neil Simon’s dazzling script parodies virtually all the conventions of the murder mystery while throwing in enough red herrings to keep the audience guessing until the very end. With Alec Guinness.


7 FACES OF DR. LAO
1964, Warner Bros., 100 min, USA, Dir: George Pal

When the mysterious Dr. Lao (Tony Randall) arrives in tiny Abalone, Arizona, with his traveling circus in tow, the locals soon discover that this is no ordinary sideshow. The circus performers offer reflections of the townspeople that aren’t always flattering; a rapacious rancher (Arthur O’Connell) sees a great serpent, and a bitter woman is even turned (briefly) to stone. But Lao’s changing faces and cryptic pronouncements can also enlighten, bringing a grieving widow (Barbara Eden) out of her shell and teaching her young son to embrace the wonders of the world. One of noted fantasy filmmaker George Pal’s most distinctive creations, 7 FACES OF DR. LAO earned an Academy Award nomination for its special effects, and an honorary Oscar for William Tuttle’s makeup work.


Syndicate content