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 Guns don't kill detectives — love does.

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1982 Film Noir parody. Its central joke is the use of Stock Footage from well-known '40s movies (mostly noirs, though the women's melodrama Humoresque somehow crept in) to construct editing gags in both visuals (skillful cutting, stand-ins, and identical sets and costumes bring modern actors into classic scenes) and dialogue (pre-existing lines are recontextualized to the point of bizarrerie).

It stars Steve Martin and Rachel Ward . . . and Ava Gardner, and Ingrid Bergman, and Fred MacMurray, and so forth. And, when you think about it, was directed by Carl Reiner ... and Robert Siodmak, and Alfred Hitchcock, and Billy Wilder, and so forth. The film had the luck of hiring veteran costumer Edith Head, who also did the costumes from most of the original films used. She passed shortly after, and the film is affectionately dedicated to her memory and to the people who worked on the films of the 40s and 50s.

Most of the old-footage interactions are one-shots with characters who do not return. This was probably due to the limited number of potentially funny scenes in each of the source films, rather than a deliberate choice, but it actually manages to replicate the episodic, loosely-plotted feel of some low-budget noirs.

The Bogart and Ava Gardner characters do appear several times throughout the story. The final section, set in a South American village, is more unified than the rest of the film because all of its pre-existing footage comes from one movie (The Bribe), creating a consistent visual style and allowing the three imported characters (played by Gardner, Charles Laughton, and Vincent Price) to refer to one another by name.

Many scenes in the film contain no old footage; these advance the plot, such as it is, but their broad humor is at odds with the subtler editing gags.

Tropes used in Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid include:
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 J J Bealer: You know who I could be?

Rigby Reardon: The Hunchback of Notre Dame?

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 Juliette Forrest: I'm beginning to think you enjoy dressing up as a woman.

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 Rigby Reardon: Sorry, but my price for leaving stinking towns is 11,500 and a kiss on the lips from Carmen Miranda.

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    • Reardon tries this in the I Walk Alone scene.
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 Rigby Reardon: What's he paying you boys? I'll double it and we'll beat the shit out of him.

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  • Fainting - In the opening scene, Juliette faints at the sight of a front page newspaper headline proclaiming her father's death. Reardon thinks she fainted because of the sports headline that read "Dodgers Lose Again".
    • Reardon pretends to faint after he is shot by a gunman in Dr. Forrest's office. He faints for real once he reaches Julliette's house.
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 Butler: Are you all right? You look as though you're going to faint.

Rigby Reardon: Faint? Never...catch me.

Butler: Sorry. I'm a butler. Not a catcher.

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 Rigby Reardon: It's a slang word. It's when a man and a woman are in love, the man puts his...

Juliette Forrest: No, no. It's written here: "F. O. C."

Rigby Reardon: Unless I miss my guess, that stands for "Friends Of Carlotta".

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  Rigby Reardon: On my way to the Firehouse place I tried not to think of Juliet Forest. I hadn't seen a body put together like that since I solved the case of the murdered girl with the big tits.

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 Little did I realize that less than a year later, she and I would have an even more exciting adventure, which is coming soon to your neighborhood theater — with a possible nude scene by Juliette.

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 Rigby Reardon: I still don't know what it means.

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  • Xtreme Kool Letterz - "Carlotta was the kind of town where they spell trouble T-R-U-B-I-L. And if you try to correct them, they kill you".
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