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The Cheap Detective

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Director  Robert Moore
Initial DVD release  November 13, 2001
Country  United States
6.6/10 IMDb

Genre  Comedy, Crime, Mystery
Music director  Patrick Williams
Writer  Neil Simon
Language  English German
The Cheap Detective movie poster
Release date  June 23, 1978 (1978-06-23)
Cast  Peter Falk (Lou Peckinpaugh), Ann-Margret (Jezebel Dezire), Eileen Brennan (Betty DeBoop), Sid Caesar (Ezra Dezire), Stockard Channing (Bess), James Coco (Marcel)
Similar movies  The Maltese Falcon, Murder by Death, The Final Girls, 21 Jump Street, Mystery Team, Dirty Vivancos III
Tagline  Who dunnit? This time it's Neil Simon who's really dunnit.

The cheap detective 1978 running jokes montage 1 2

The Cheap Detective is a 1978 American satirical comedy film written by Neil Simon and directed by Robert Moore as a follow-up to their successful Murder by Death (Columbia, 1976).


The Cheap Detective movie scenes

It stars Peter Falk as Lou Peckinpaugh, a detective in the Humphrey Bogart mold. The film is an affectionate parody of Bogart movies such as Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon.

The Cheap Detective movie scenes

The ensemble cast includes Madeline Kahn, Louise Fletcher, Ann-Margret, Eileen Brennan, Stockard Channing, Marsha Mason, Sid Caesar, John Houseman, Dom DeLuise, Abe Vigoda, James Coco, Phil Silvers, Fernando Lamas, Nicol Williamson, Scatman Crothers, Vic Tayback and Paul Williams.

The Cheap Detective movie scenes

The cheap detective 1978 running jokes montage 2 2


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Lou Peckinpaugh (Peter Falk), a bumbling San Francisco private detective, tries to prove himself innocent of his partner's murder while helping a bizarre array of characters recover a lost treasure. The film spoofs Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, Chinatown, and To Have and Have Not. The scene in the restaurant with Peckinpaugh and Pepe Damascus mocks the opening scene of The Big Sleep.


  • Peter Falk as Lou Peckinpaugh (Once again donning the characteristics he used as "Sam Diamond" in Murder by Death and spoofing Humphrey Bogart)
  • Madeline Kahn as Mrs. Montenegro (a spoof of Brigette O'Shaunessy from Maltese Falcon)
  • Dom DeLuise as Pepe Damascus (a pun of Joel Cairo from The Maltese Falcon)
  • Louise Fletcher as Marlene DuChard
  • Ann-Margret as Jezebel Dezire (She based her character on "Rusty" from Viva Las Vegas and "Dallas" from Stagecoach) and is also a spoof on Carmen from The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
  • Eileen Brennan as Betty DeBoop (Once again donning the characteristics she used in Murder by Death)
  • Stockard Channing as Bess (Channing had just received the message about playing Betty Rizzo in Grease. She was also Falk's goddaughter)
  • Sid Caesar as Ezra Dezire
  • Marsha Mason as Georgia Merkle
  • John Houseman as Jasper Blubber (Based on Sydney Greenstreet's "Kaspar Gutman" from The Maltese Falcon)
  • Vic Tayback as Lieutenant DiMaggio (DiMaggio and Rizzuto were players on the New York Yankees baseball squad).
  • Abe Vigoda as Sgt. Rizzuto (DiMaggio and Rizzuto were players on the New York Yankees baseball squad).
  • James Coco as Marcel (Coco was a personal friend of Falk's and wanted a part in the movie)
  • Phil Silvers as Hoppy (Despite his illness, Falk invited Silvers to help him with the film. They shared cigarettes throughout the filming)
  • Fernando Lamas as Paul DuChard (Casablanca's Victor Laszlo)
  • Nicol Williamson as Col. Schlissel
  • James Cromwell as Schnell (Another member of the Murder by Death cast and another personal friend of Falk)
  • Scatman Crothers as Tinker (A spoof on Sam from Casablanca)
  • Paul Williams as Boy (a spoof on Wilmer in Maltese Falcon)
  • David Ogden Stiers as Captain (Stiers juggled this role with his more well known role as Major Charles Emerson Winchester III in the television series M*A*S*H and had arranged a small amount of the movie's music.)
  • References

    The Cheap Detective Wikipedia
    The Cheap Detective IMDb The Cheap Detective