Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Great (film) Debates vol. 23

If someone who litigates is a litigator, then why isn’t someone who detects a detector? I don’t know, but for $25 a day plus expenses, I’ll look into that for you.

Who is your favorite detective on film?


Panelist: T-Rav

Character-wise, that would be Sherlock Holmes, of course. As for the actors who have played him, I think most have done a pretty good job (except for Roger Moore; really?), but I think you just about have to go with Basil Rathbone. It doesn't get more classic than that.

Panelist: Tennessee Jed

I'm going with Bogart as Sam Spade in Maltese Falcon, probably only because I already voted for Dirty Harry as favorite anti-hero. Maybe I could cheat and do private vs. public sector. ;-)

Panelist: ScottDS

Sergeant Frank Drebin, Detective Lieutenant Police Squad (a special division of the police department). Drebin was portrayed by Leslie Nielsen in the three Naked Gun films which, in turn, were based on the short-lived ABC show Police Squad! The show (which was cancelled after six episodes) was a parody of police procedurals but, just as Airplane! is primarily based on Zero Hour!, Police Squad primarily resembles the 1950s cop show M Squad, which starred Lee Marvin as Lt. Frank Ballinger. Drebin is a bumbling fool, but he always gets his man. His boss is Captain Ed Hocken (George Kennedy in the films, Alan North on the show). The show and the films were filled with ridiculous sight gags, puns, and non sequiturs, and indeed, the reason why the show was cancelled was because the audience actually had to watch it - creators David & Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams learned the hard way that most people simply multi-task with the TV on. The films reprise the show's classic title sequence and theme music and feature Priscilla Presley as Drebin's love interest Jane Spencer and O.J. Simpson as the hapless Officer Nordberg. Drebin battles a variety of villains including assassins, evil industrialists, and mad bombers. Oh, and be on the lookout for "Weird Al" Yankovic's cameos in all three films! R.I.P. Leslie Nielsen. "Nice beaver!"

Panelist: AndrewPrice

So many good choices from Eddie Valiant in Roger Rabbit to Peter Hustenoff as Hercule Poirot in Death On the Nile to Sam Diamond in Murder By Death. But when it comes to film, there's only one man I trust to solve my murder: Dirty Harry Callahan. You may not know if you fired five rounds or six, be sure does. . . punk.

Panelist: BevfromNYC

Nick and Nora Charles of the Thin Man series! They served a mean martini and wore great clothes and always figured out “who done it”. And Asta the wire-haired terrier was cute too!

Comments? Thoughts?

84 comments:

ScottDS said...

I obviously need to work on my answer length. :-)

Great choices! I actually had trouble with this one because the genre is one that I am not too familiar with. I was tempted to say Philip Marlowe as portrayed by Robert Mitchum in Farewell, My Lovely but it didn't seem fair to mention a character in a film I've only seen once.

I can't believe I didn't think of Nick and Nora first!

Tennessee Jed said...

Certainly fine choices. Rav - the ONLY reason I don't have Holmes in there is because the character is such an icon from Doyle's original stories that I couldn't think of him PRIMARILY as a film character even though he has been portrayed as much or more on film and television as any other character. I had the priviledge of meeting Basil Rathbone when he spoke at my college in 1969. That said, I have to admit that Jeremy Brett won me over as THE definitive Holmes.

Dirty Harry is wonderfully iconic, and is a detective, but as I pointed out, he carries the title of detective, but to me he is really a cop. I was thinking a private-eye, "dick" whatever one wants to call it.

Scott - what a wonderfully courageous choice. Certainly Frank Drebin does verbally in dead pan humor what Clousseau does with physical humor. Going with a comic is a great "counter" choice.

Andrew - Eddie Valiant is a very nice thought as you brought out in you "Roger Rabbit" review. Harry Callahan certainly is to film what Sherlock Holmes is to the short story, and once again, I only disqualified him because I think of him as a cop, even though cops solve more crimes than consulting detectives.

Which brings me to Bev.'s choice of Nick and Nora. Extremely worthy in any listing of great detectives. And, as you say, how can anyone argue with a great martini.

Floyd R. Turbo said...

Can't argue with Nick and Nora... probably my favorite.

Alternatives... Christian Bale's Batman in The Dark Knight.

Rick Deckard in Blade Runner is pretty good...

and Bud White, Edmund Exley, and Jack Vincennes in L.A. Confidential

T-Rav said...

Good choices, guys!

Jed--I guess that's a good point; Holmes is primarily a literary and not a film character. But I like the stories so much I couldn't not pick Rathbone. (Although, one quibble I have with those and other movies is the way Watson is portrayed as a bumbling, older chap, which isn't really accurate to the canon. This is why I actually like Jude Law's portrayal in the recent movies better.)

I should have known Andrew would pick Valiant, given his glowing review of Roger Rabbit. :-)

Tennessee Jed said...

Nick & Nora srge to the rail and take an early lead on the inside rail :)

Rav - if you truly want accuracy, nothing touches the Granada Television series. The question actually becomes, David Burke or Edward Hardwicke as Watson? Now Jude Law as Watson? I actually think he would make a better Holmes. The new films with Downey Jr. and Law are o.k., they just aren't Holmes and Watson.

DUQ said...

Nice choices and I'm amazed you all picked different people! Nicely done panel!

Tennessee Jed said...

well thanks, DUQ. I find it interesting how easy it is for anybody to put their own artificial parameters around the rationale. For example, it never even occurred to me to think comedy!! Likewise, somehow, my mind immediately went into private eye mode which excluded some great police detectives.

Patriot said...

I love Regnad Kcin as the best detective ever. (obscure hippie reference)

DUQ said...

Tennessee, I agree! When I read the questions I often find myself thinking in one small way and then I see the answers and am surprised at how varied the answers are. I never thought comedy either in this instance. I actually didn't think of police detectives either, I just thought about things like Agatha Christie's detectives. That's one thing I love about this whole series is that it forces you to think bigger about films and television and to "broaden your horizons." :D

AndrewPrice said...

Excellent choices everyone! I loved Scott's selection of Frank Drebin! Of course, they are all good choices.

Sherlock Holmes the king of all detectives! He's easily the greatest of all time.

Sam Spade is the coolest of the cool noir detectives!

I don't know much about the Thin Man as I haven't seen many of those. Indeed, I know them better from the movie Murder By Death which was a great parody.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I went back and forth on that whether Dirty Harry really fit or if he was just a cop. Technically, he's a detective but he clearly isn't a detective in the "classic" sense of a Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot.

Hercule Poirot would probably be my second choice. He's my favorite "book" detective, though it's a close call with Sherlock Holmes. And he translates well to film as well.

Patriot said...

He walks again by night... out of the fog into the smog. Takes a right at Drucker and Fourth, takes a left at Fourth and Drucker, turns the corner and runs into a great sandstone building (Souned effect of flesh hitting object) "Ouch... my nose..."

The Adventures of Nick Danger, Third Eye

I was sitting in my office listening to the endless staccato of raindrops on my desk, reading my name backwards in the glass "Regnad Kcin" when she walked into the room...

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

As I mentioned above, I only picked Drebin because I don't have much experience in the genre and I didn't want to pick a detective character in a movie I only saw once.

I love the first Thin Man film and the rest range from very good to simply okay. I say this tongue in cheek but my dream marriage scenario is Nick and Nora: I'm a schlub who marries a rich woman, we drink all day, and I solve crimes with our cute dog in my spare time. :-)

There was once a movie magazine called Cinescape that suggested various literary characters whose time had come for the big-screen treatment. This was in the mid-90s and they suggested a Holmes movie starring Jeremy Irons and Hugh Grant as Watson. Obviously this never happened but it would've been interesting to see.

Murder by Death was also a lot of fun. It has what I think is the coolest butler name: Alec Guiness as "Bensonmum."

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, Blade Runner good call! The first noir guy from the future.

L.A. Confidential is a great film on many levels. One thing I really liked about it were the characters were so original, and then they each had to work directly against their own personality traits to solve the crime. Good stuff!

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav and Jed, My favorite portrayal is the long running PBS series with Jeremy Brett. To me, he is Holmes.

Yeah, Eddie Valiant man! He's got the coolest job on the planet, solve casing for Toons! :)

Patriot said...

Okay...... No more. Bogie then in the Maltese Falcon..

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Edward Hardwick.

I liked the new films as well, but I never saw them as Sherlock Holmes -- just as Robert Downey Jr. as "a detective."

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, We have a pretty cool panel with a very wide perspective. That's what makes these fun. And when the panel agrees on one answer, you can pretty sure it's ultra-iconic.

Patriot said...

Bogie for film....Jeremy Brett for TV depiction.....And Holmes for literary character

AndrewPrice said...

Patriot, I have to admit that reference is over my head? Regnad Kcin? Nick Danger?

Patriot said...

And The Shadow for spoken word.....

AndrewPrice said...

Bogart is a great choice. I wonder if Bogart in the Maltese Falcon hasn't done more for recruiting in the profession than any other character? Everyone seems to know that character and see that as a classic example of what detective life is like.

Patriot said...

This article's lead section may not adequately summarize its contents. Please consider expanding the lead to provide an accessible overview of the article's key points. (May 2010)
The Firesign Theatre is an American comedy troupe consisting of Phil Austin, Peter Bergman, David Ossman and Philip Proctor. Their brand of surrealistic humor is best known through their record albums, which acquired an enthusiastic following in the late 1960s and early '70s.

The troupe began as live radio performers in Los Angeles on radio stations KPPC-FM and KPFK during the mid-1960s.

The group's name stems in part from astrology, because the membership encompasses all three "fire signs:" Aries (Austin), Leo (Proctor), and Sagittarius (Bergman and Ossman). The name also refers to Fireside Theatre, an early television series that ran on NBC from 1949 to 1955, followed by Jane Wyman Presents the Fireside Theatre (1955–58); it may also refer to the Fireside Chats radio broadcasts made by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a parody of which can be heard in one of the Theatre's Nick Danger adventures.

Tennessee Jed said...

Most people I ask agree with your assessment on Hardwicke. He played Watson with just a hint of humor. My only point was that Burke left after the initial run of episodes, so Hardwicke became much more associated with the role . . . and yet, he was great as well and who knows how he would have been perceived if he had stayed in the role. I think Burke, to Rav's point, went out of his way to play Watson as a stony face, just to contrast with the bumblings of Nigel Bruce (Watson to Rathbone's Holmes.)

AndrewPrice said...

Ah. I didn't know that. Thanks!

Patriot said...

Andrew.....if you haven't listened to Firesign Theater you really should. Now granted.......it 40 some years ago when I listened to them, so it might not be the same mixed up world as it as back then, but I always found their sound effects as funny as hell. ... "stay on the yellow rubber line..." "that's a mighty fine nose you have there.....why thank you. We're all Bozos on this bus"

Tennessee Jed said...

To patriots point: you had to have been hip to Firnsign Theatre in the 70's


http://www.thrillingdetective.com/danger_n.html

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, That's always a good question -- if someone had stuck around, how would things have changed?

I associate Hardwicke with the role because he was in it so long and he's the guy I saw most often. He may also have been the guy I saw first, which usually makes that person "the right" person.

But in either event, I think they both do an excellent job and the whole production is just fantastic.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I was hip to Sesame Street and Scooby Doo in the 1970s. ;)

Here's your link: LINK

AndrewPrice said...

Patriot, I wonder if my father didn't listen to that because it is starting to sound familiar, particularly the mention of the Shadow. "The Shadow knows...."

Patriot said...

Thanks Andrew! Now I feel like a relic from the Ancien Regime ...... The Shadow was a radio show from the 30s and or 40s. Fire sign theater probably had some of that old narrative in their drug addled brains when they did Nick Danger.......

Patriot said...

Gotta run....... You kids have too much energy for me. I need to take my nap and reflect on those wonder years so long ago..!

Tennessee Jed said...

Andrew - I know what you mean about our built in bias towards the actor we originally see in a role (assuming we liked the job they did.) Initially, I thought Jeremy Brett, even though he was a dead ringer for the original Strand Magazine sketches of Holmes, was a bit too shrill or, perhaps, striden in the role. My heart tells me I was merely protecting Sir Basil, who was my first Holmes and who I thought had been "perfect" in the role. If I had to have one little nit about that series, it was that as Brett became increasingly ill, he became puffy and less well looking. That was hardly Brett's fault, since he was literally dieing.

Mycroft said...

Bogart is definitely the icon of movie detectives, but if we were to include television detectives I would have to go with Lt Columbo.
Peter Falk was exceptional as the constantly underestimated police detective routinely outsmarting his opponents - kind of the counterpoint to Sherlock Holmes. Every criminal knew that Holmes was a genius, whereas Columbo was just a shabbily dressed public servant.
And Columbo acted more like a classic detective than Callahan, taking down his opponents with intellect rather than firepower.

AndrewPrice said...

Patriot, LOL! Sorry about that!

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

I think you may have missed my second comment above (the one after Patriot).


Mycroft -

Good call on Columbo! I recently watched my first-ever episode, guest starring William Shatner as an actor who plays a TV detective. He kills his blackmailing producer and takes an interest in the case, helping Columbo to solve it "in character." At one point, I swear Shatner's talking about himself in the fourth person!

Having never seen an episode before, I had no idea the audience knows who the villain is beforehand. The entertainment comes from watching Columbo solve the case (and my God, Peter Falk had so many mannerisms - no wonder comedians could imitate him so well!).

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I've run into that sort of thing a lot as well. It can be very difficult to change an image once you've got it fixed in your head, no matter how good the new guy turns out to be. But sometimes, the new guy really is just better. But on the other hand, sometimes the original guy was just better.

Yeah, Brett started to look bad by the end of the series. That's not his fault, it just is what it is. But in an odd sort of way, it fit the wind-down of the series as it seemed to really herald the end -- not to be morbid.

AndrewPrice said...

Mycroft, I love Columbo. That was such a well done and well acted show, it was just really enjoyable.

(fyi, we have "favorite TV detective" coming up in a few weeks.)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I did indeed miss that somehow. Sorry.

Murder By Death and The Cheap Detective are two of my all-time favorite comedies. I love everything about those films, all the little digs, how observant the characters are and yet how blind, and the ridiculousness of the ending -- fantastic cast too. I think Cheap Detective is even better though because it comes from stronger material.

Drebin is still an excellent choice even if he was your default choice. I've seen most of the other detectives on film, even a lot of the Charlie Chan films, which never seem to be shown anymore because of complaints about them being racist. But someone I haven't seen much of the Thin Man.

So your ideal marriage involves lots of booze and pet endangerment? You should post that in a profile on e-Marriage.com.

Jeremy Irons would have been a good Sherlock. I'm not a fan of Hugh Grant though.

LawHawkRFD said...

For gritty portrayal, I'm with Bogart in Maltese Falcon. But for the straight-up joy of watching the bumbling detective who somehow gets his man, I'm with Scott. As good as Peter Sellers was as Clouseau in The Pink Panther, I'll take Frank Drebin any day in the week. The movies were funny, but the TV show was hysterical (the entire series of six is available on DVD, and I re-watch those episodes, laughing just as hard each time). They ruined the Nordberg character by replacing the original with O J Simpson. In the TV series, Nordberg was a recurring gag, who seemed to be seven or eight feet tall, and you never saw his face. The announcer would announce the title of the episode, but the written title on screen was always different from the spoken title. It was canceled because (in the words of the producer) "you actually had to watch it to appreciate it." It was a satire of the then-popular detective/police shows, so you did have to pay attention to get many of the gags. Frank Drebin, you are sorely missed.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I remember one gag where the scientist says "Nordberg, you've got something on the side of your mouth." The guy reached up and hlf a banana falls from out of screen to the table. LOL!


In light of your comment, I have to throw this out there. When I was young, I loved the Pink Panther films. But they haven't held up for me. When I watch them, I just don't see much in them that's all that funny anymore.

ScottDS said...

LawHawk -

The Nordberg character was played by Peter Lupus on the TV show. He wasn't the tall guy. His name was Al and I forget who played him.

LawHawkRFD said...

Scott: You're absolutely right. And I realized it right after I posted. Oh, well. It doesn't change my opinion of the poor choice of O J Simpson (though I do have to admit that the flashback movie episode with Simpson/Nordberg unable to get through a doorway because of his huge Afro wouldn't have worked with Lupus).

T-Rav said...

Andrew and Jed, I don't really have a problem with the new Holmes movies. I mean, yeah, they're more action/adventure than detective story (something Holmes himself would have reviled in real life), but I see it as emphasizing different parts of the canon over others. Many forget that Holmes was an amateur boxer and martial-arts expert, for example, not to mention something of a druggie and a manic depressive, which Downey does a good job of bringing out, and like I said, I think it's fairer to Watson than some of the older movies were. I wouldn't call it one of the best Holmes movies by any stretch, but it's pretty good within its limitations.

I guess I'm not a purist to any one version of Holmes, as I saw a few of the Brett episodes, then some of Rathbone's work, another Brett episode or two, and so on. I will say (I don't remember if I mentioned it or not) that I did not like Roger Moore in the role, which he did for Sherlock Holmes in New York or something like that. Not a bad premise, but too much Holmes/Irene Adler romance and, well, Moore's just not right for it.

Floyd R. Turbo said...

Paul Giamatti in The Illusionist was also good -- even though it took him the whole movie to figure it out! Maybe I confuse "well acted" with "good detective"?

Sean Connery as the priest in The Name of the Rose -- TV ups to Derek Jacobi as Cadfael (never read the books)

Second Hercule Poirot -- especially in Death on the Nile.

rlaWTX said...

is John McClane a detective?

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, In fact he is! :)

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, I'd forgotten about Name of the Rose, a film which proves that detectives can be found in any era! I keep meaning to read the book, but just can't find the time.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I'm not a purist either. In fact, I'm more than happy to see any portrayal of Holmes. I just like Brett best. To me, he's the definitive Holmes, i.e. he's what I think of when I read the books. But I'm certainly not averse to other portrayals.

To me, the thing about the new films is that they are just too anachronistic to be real Sherlock Holmes. I enjoy them in the same sense I enjoy League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, as a fun curiosity, but not as anything really true to the role.

Floyd R. Turbo said...

Andrew... The Name of the Rose... unless you're interested in semiotics don't bother with the book. The screenwriters did a more than passable job distilling that book down to the story with enough discussion of Aristotle to keep nerds like me interested.

Tennessee Jed said...

Floyd - I thought about Connery in that movie as sort of an honorable mention, 11th century division. If not mistaken the book was by Umberto Eco, perhaps the most difficult author to read. That said, Name of the Rose was child's play compared with Focoult's Pendulum.

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, That's the other reason I've been hesitant to read it -- I've heard it's really, really dense and that it's more of a treatise on theology at times than a story.

BevfromNYC said...

Hey everybody! »»hiccup»» I think Scott was on to something...»»hiccup»»...I decided to have a Nick and Nora kind of day...»»hiccup»» now where did I put that dog???

BevfromNYC said...

Floyd - Have you ever seen the Cadfael series on PBS? It starred Derek Jacobi as a 12th Century monk who solves crimes CSI style.

Tennessee Jed said...

Rav - I don't have a problem with new Holmes movies either. If I had to characterize my problem with the Downey/Law films is the same I had with the evolution of the Bond films. My favorite was From Russia with Love which was the closest to a good old fashioned spy story. Later, during the Moore era, they started bringing in JAWS and space ships and a bunch of stuff that, to me, was just not Bond. They can be entertaining, but just don't happen to be my particular cup of tea.

T-Rav said...

Bev, do you have the hiccups? ;-)

BevfromNYC said...

yesththth, T-Rafffff...Martini Gin very dry with 3 olives...just wave the Vermouth bottle over the pitcher...stirred not shaken..hiccup..

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I've never heard of the Cadfael series?

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, That's a good way to put it. It's almost like a different genre at that point. The original Bond stories were spy stories, the later Bond films were blockbuster action movies.

I think the Sherlock stuff is the same. I think the original was an adaptation of the books. The most recent is an action blockbuster. They really can't be compared directly.

Individualist said...

Just as an aside there is a new film starring Katherine Heigl that I saw which was OK. It is One for the Money. Heigl plays a former Lingerie saleswoman at a department store who falls into becoming a bounty hunter for lack of work. The plot is ridiculous but Heigl is a great actress and overall the film still sort of worked.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, It's funny you should say that because some conservatives are slamming her and the film. I personally like her as an actress and (from what I understand) they've misunderstood the point to her character in the film.

BevfromNYC said...

Indi - The movie is "One for the Money" and is from a series of chick lit novels by Janet Evanovich. They are HYSTERICAL!!! She is up to #16, so if this works, there could be many more. Personally, I am skeptical since I never saw Heigl as lead character, but I will hold my opinion until I see it.

Ed said...

Sorry I'm late! Nice lists and excellent comments. I think it's interesting no one has come up with any new characters. Films and television are crawling with detectives and cops these days but they all run together as a big jumble.

Ed said...

Also, I recall seeing a version of "The Maltese Falcon" or something like it with Robert Mitchum as Sam Spade. He was horrible!

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I thought about that earlier too. I honestly can't think of any modern detectives that have caught my attention. I think it's because they have no style. They are all technicians now and they spend their time running samples and cruising the net looking up info as whereisthebadguy.com.

The days of the cool detective who has to work their way through an impossible task are over.

Ed said...

Andrew, That's a good point. Take the guys from Law and Order or CSI or any of the rest and you could move them from one show to the next without missing a beat. Or they have some stupid ability like the ability to talk to ghosts or see the future with computers. There's no style there at all.

Ed said...

You know, every year they crack out some new detective shows and I always think people will get sick of seeing the same thing over and over, but they don't. Then people will tell you with a straight face that their favorite show is someone different from all the others even though they aren't. They're the exact same thing each time.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I've tried to watch some to see if there's anything original and if there is, I can't see it.

Doc Whoa said...

Sherlock Holmes is the greatest of all time, no doubt and I've enjoyed all versions of him, even the British one from a couple years ago. Understand they are doing another series of those.

AndrewPrice said...

Doc, I saw that the other day. I enjoyed the first set that I saw -- there were three episodes, though I think I read somewhere that they've actually done a second season already. I thought the acting was great and the story was updated quite nicely. Even the villain was fantastic, though I don't want to spoil it for anyone.

ScottDS said...

Re: detectives on television, a few years ago ABC tried doing a Marlowe TV series set in present-day LA but it obviously never made it past the pilot stage. It was to star Jason O'Mara who I believe is now on Terra Nova.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I think the show Ed is referencing above was a remake of The Big Sleep in 1978 where Robert Mitchum plays Philip Marlowe. It was pretty crappy.

On the bigger issue, I think the problem today is that they are writing fundamentally different detectives. In the heyday of detectives, these men and women were users of logic and observation to solve "perfect crimes." These days, it's just generic people employing some technical gimmick -- a crime lab, a psychic, a computer -- to solve the murder/sex crime of the week. And in each case, it's ridiculous because these aren't even plausible realities.

Take for example, the guys who do pre-crime with a computer. The concept is so far beyond ridiculous that they might as well be throwing darts at a phonebook for all the sense it made. But with a guy like Hercule Poirot or Holmes, you could always follow their train of logic and it made intuitive sense (even if it really didn't).

In other words, today it's just glitz and plot contrivance, in the past these were more like puzzles.

And I'm not trying to sound like the old grumpy guy, I'm just saying that the way these stories are written has changed. That's why I think the modern guys are largely forgettable.

ScottDS said...

I wasn't referring to Ed's comment specifically but yeah, I think Mitchum did two movies as Marlowe: Farewell, My Lovely* which I thought was okay, and The Big Sleep which I've never seen but I've heard it's not very good.

*The Naked Gun parodies this film in the scene where Drebin sees Priscilla Presley at the top of the stairs.

As for TV shows, I agree, and it's one of those cases where I wonder whether or not we're too sophisticated for stories about simple detective work... or perhaps not sophisticated enough?

I know I've mentioned it before but I do give Ron Moore credit for creating a show about detectives that was completely different than anything else: his show took place in a world where magic was real but it never got passed the pilot stage.

AndrewPrice said...

Actually, let me add a point. I think there are three reasons why modern detectives have change.

First, modern society is big on science and we believe science can solve anything. Hence, all the lab tests and nonsensical computer use.

Secondly, I'm not sure people currently accept the idea that people stereotypically engage in certain behaviors. So it's hard to solve a crime by saying, "well it happened in a bar and all steelworkers are drunks, so it was the steelworker and not the librarian."

Plus, people want twists and it's hard to include a genuine twist when your story is premised on a logical presentation. It's a lot easier when you can just pretend you misunderstood the test results.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott,

I wonder whether or not we're too sophisticated for stories about simple detective work... or perhaps not sophisticated enough?

Brilliant observation because even though modern audience think they are much more sophisticated, they actually are in many ways far less sophisticated. I think the real word for what they are mistaking as sophistication is being "jaded." Cynicism does not equate to knowledge, it just equates to a different form of ignorance.

Of course, if you can put up with the cynicism, this also means you can be a great success as a writer if you just stick with the patterns and know how to disguise them just enough to make the cynics think they see something original.

Individualist said...

Bev

I liked the movie and it had several funny themes. The plot was far fetched and unfortunately too similar to the other movie with Gerard Butler and Anniston did where the girl was the violater and and the ex was the bounty hunter.

Despite this it was funny but had enough action where it did not appear to be completely cartoony.

Then again I am not as critical of comedies as others might be. At any rate there did not seem to be any suckerpunches. There were some cliches but it was tongue in cheek.

EricP said...

Ford MFin' Fairlane.

rlaWTX said...

to me film means movies. if we are talking TV then I have a couple of favorite characters -
Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon, NCIS): has science, but still a lot of character driven stories...
Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion, Castle): he's the writer, not the cop, so he gets to say the crazy stuff but he's also got the people-watching thing down...
Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz, Bones): a cop in the middle of the geeks, also gets to try to defend faith in the middle of atheism
Mac Taylor (Gary Sinise, CSI:NY): all science, but he's great - a great boss, great guy, but straight arrow [honorable mention for CSI:NY- Don Flack (Eddie Cahill) the cop in the middle of the geeks and he's just ... those blue eyes... sigh]

AndrewPrice said...

Eric, Now that is a name I haven't heard in a long time! LOL!

I really enjoyed that film, though I suspect I'm one of the few who did.

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, Yes, film means movies. We're going to talk about television detectives in a couple weeks. They are sufficiently different that we broke the question into two parts -- film and television.

I think we got talking about television because, as always, these the comments take on a life of their own as they progress. That's part of the fun, I think.

EricP said...

You're surprisingly not as alone as you'd think, Andrew. Do a "Ford Fairlane" search at Threedonia and not a naysayer in the bunch.

AndrewPrice said...

Eric, That's good to hear! :)

rlaWTX said...

yeah, I thought so... but I couldn't help myself!

AndrewPrice said...

That's ok rlaWTX, we expect everyone to break the rules at Commentarama.

Post a Comment