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.


KNOCK ON ANY DOOR
1949, Sony Repertory, 100 min, USA, Dir: Nicholas Ray

Ray’s second picture was produced by star Humphrey Bogart’s Santana Productions and it reflects the gutsy social realism both men favored in their storytelling. Delinquent John Derek and his gutter-rat chums have shot a cop during a robbery. Bogart’s character, a successful attorney who extricated himself from the ghetto, feels obligated to defend Derek. Ray poses eternal questions about character versus environment and which is more responsible for rampant urban crime. NOT AVAILABLE ON DVD!


THE DARK KNIGHT
2008, Warner Bros., 152 min, USA, Dir: Christopher Nolan

Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) must protect Gotham City from the Joker (Heath Ledger, in an Oscar-winning performance), whose path of destruction turns Batman’s potential successor, district attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), into the disfigured villain Two-Face. The all-star cast includes Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine. While the bravura action sequences come fast and furious, Nolan’s exploration of the characters’ psyches - and the issue of vigilantism - is equally skilled.


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