“Back in the ’40s, this town was crawlin’ with dollies like you.”
An aging private eye (Art Carney) whose partner (Howard Duff) has just been killed is hired by a ditzy artist (Lily Tomlin) to find the man who stole her cat; soon he finds himself embroiled in a complex web of murder, infidelity, and blackmail.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Detectives and Private Eyes
- Lily Tomlin Films
- Los Angeles
- Murder Mystery
Robert Benton’s second directorial feature gave veteran T.V. star Art Carney a plum role as detective Ira Wells, and allowed young Lily Tomlin to revel in her innate wackiness. The entire affair is essentially an homage to P.I. flicks of the ’40s and ’50s, with good use of diverse city locales, a host of dicey characters, and the presence of a MacGuffin (Tomlin’s cat). The primary reason to watch this good-hearted film, however, is for the lead performances by Carney and Tomlin, who are perhaps one of the oddest would-be romantic couples on-screen, and who perfectly represent the culture clash between ’40s old-school demeanor and ’70s New Age wackiness. Unfortunately, Benton’s plot is ultimately too convoluted for its own good, and prevents The Late Show from being essential viewing — but it’s still well worth a look.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Art Carny as Ira Wells
- Lily Tomlin as Margo Sperling
- Eugene Roche as Birdwell
- The amusing May-December rapport between Margo and Ira
- Good use of authentic L.A. locales
No, but it’s recommended.