There are few comedians who can touch Steve Martin at his funniest. Don’t believe me? Check out this reply to a fan that appeared on Letters Of Note. Still don’t believe me? Then you should watch Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, a superb homage to / satire of vintage black and white movies and film noir in particular, which is arguably the funniest film of Martin’s career (although you could make a case for Planes, Trains and Automobiles, The Jerk, The Three Amigos or The Man With Two Brains as well).
In this scene Martin’s private investigator Rigby Reardon is following a lead as he looks into the suspicious death of John Hay Forrest, a noted scientist and cheesemaker. A found list details several ‘Enemies of Carlotta’, but one name – Swede Anderson – isn’t crossed out. Rigby visits Swede but finds the target to be somewhat worse for wear. There’s only one thing for it: strong java.
If you’re thinking that Swede looks familiar that’s perfectly understandable. Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid cleverly incorporates a wide range of scenes from classic films and part of the fun is in spotting the famous face; Swede is actually Burt Lancaster and the footage here is taken from The Killers. Elsewhere in the film you can see Lana Turner, Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant, Alan Ladd, James Cagney, Barbara Stanwyck and Veronic Lake, among others.