The Cheap Detective

The Cheap Detective

Robert Moore (1) (1978)

A Certificate


Our Score
A good-natured, innuendo-laden and shamelessly silly spoof of classic 1940s Humphrey Bogart vehicles, this overlooked Neil Simon-scripted gem is a kind of chaser to his Murder by Death from two years earlier, with Robert Moore once again directing and Peter Falk in similar mode as a frustrated trench-coat-wearing detective. As spot-on as Falk is as the endearingly shady sleuth investigating the murder of Floyd Merkle, he's graciously upstaged by a sextet of actresses in their prime, including Eileen Brennan, Stockard Channing, Marsha Mason and, in particular, Madeline Kahn in what could all be considered career-defining comic performances. The film is unusually well-photographed for a comedy (John A Alonzo shot Chinatown, also referenced here) and zips along with a stream of one-liners delivered with a perfectly judged air of meaningful nonsense.


A private eye sets out to find his former partner's killer - a crime for which he has become prime suspect. Detective spoof, starring Peter Falk, Dom DeLuise, Ann-Margret, Stockard Channing, Phil Silvers, Scatman Crothers and Marsha Mason.

Cast & Crew

Lou Peckinpaugh Peter Falk
Jezebel Dezire Ann-Margret
Betty DeBoop Eileen Brennan
Ezra Dezire Sid Caesar
Bess Stockard Channing
Marcel James Coco
Pepe Damascus Dom DeLuise
Marlene DuChard Louise Fletcher
Jasper Blubber John Houseman
Mrs Montenegro Madeline Kahn
Paul DuChard Fernando Lamas
Georgia Merkle Marsha Mason
Hoppy Phil Silvers
Sergeant Rizzuto Abe Vigoda
Boy Paul Williams
Colonel Schlussel Nicol Williamson
Schnell James Cromwell
Tinker Scatman Crothers
Captain David Ogden Stiers
Lt DiMaggio Vic Tayback
Director Robert Moore (1)
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: Columbia-Warner DistsGuidance: Edited for some of its language, and contains some violence.