Back Seat Producers Season 07 Shows

BSP Episode 220: Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid

5th in this series of four Modern Black & White movies (Yep, 5th!)

Release date:               5/21/82

Universal Pictures


Directed by

Carl Reiner

Written by

Carl Reiner

George Gipe

Steve Martin

Produced by

Carl Reiner

Richard McWhorter

David V. Picker



Steve Martin               Rigby Reardon

Rachel Ward               Juliet Forrest


This movie was chosen specifically because it’s a comedy, a parody, a satire, and it uses the movies from the 1940s and 1950s interspersed with the modern actors and dialogue.

Initial comments by the hosts:

Tony thought that this movie was the perfect capper to the last month of movies that they’d been watching.  Tony, who isn’t a fan of voiceovers, thought that they were hysterical in this movie.  Darrell agreed in that it was a “relief” after the four more downer-themed movies and it spotlighted and made fun of the tropes that they’d been looking at in the last four movies.  He also compared watching it now to when he saw it when it came out in 1982.  He didn’t have a lot of knowledge about film noir then, so it was simply a comedy film at that time, and not necessarily a successful comedy. Now, having a stronger base comprehension of noir, he could much more appreciate how funny the movie was.  Sam questioned how did that film, relying so heavily on the audience having a noir background, not make it an automatically successful movie?

This brought the discussion back to who this movie is for?  It was a movie that poked fun of movies made 30-40 years earlier, so the audience would need to have a touch point to those older films.  This would be the equivalent to making a movie today that makes fun of movies from the 80s.  Sam brought up Hot Tub Time Machine as such a movie in that filmgoers would need to have some kind of a memory of movies and culture from the 1980s to understand Hot Tub Time Machine.

At this point the discussion turned to the idea that one needs to have particular cultural references to enjoy certain films. Sam stated that American Pie is not going to make sense in 20 years.  Tony disagreed, but Sam thought that technology would advance enough and social interaction will have changed enough that the perils of American Pie simply will not be relevant.  Please feel free to insert your own personal “pie” thoughts and jokes here.  Tony used Animal House as his comparison, and Lena (from the chat room) argued that if Sam’s American Pie argument held up, no one would ever watch Porky’s again.

Sam brought up the fact that everyone probably has a movie or two that, as you watch it again and again over the years, delivers something new each time.  His examples were Blade Runner and Ghostbusters.  Lena also brought up Tootsie and Airplane as her examples of movies that changed/evolved as she’s seen them again over the years.

Other movies that rely on cultural references?  Darrell brought up It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and Sam brought up South Pacific and Rent.  Tony mentions North by Northwest as a movie that can’t be remade for modern audiences due to technological or social advancements, stating that a simple phone call clears up the whole problem, but things are too far gone by the time they get to that point.

Some of the hosts’ favorite quotes from Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid:

Jimmie Sue’s father: Don’t go near my daughter again. Don’t try to see her. Don’t write her and don’t phone her.
Rigby Reardon: Can I use her underwear to make soup?


Juliet Forrest: But what does “FOC” mean?
Rigby Reardon: It’s a slang word. It’s when a man and a woman are in love, the man puts his…
Juliet Forrest: No, no. It’s written here: “F. O. C.”


Rigby Reardon: My plan was to kiss her with every lip on my face.


Rigby Reardon: I hadn’t seen a body put together like that since I’d solved the case of the Murdered Girl with the Big Tits


Cary Grant: You don’t smoke, do you?
Rigby Reardon: No, I have tuberculosis.
Cary Grant: Oh, thank heaven for that.


Performers who appear in this film in footage from earlier classic movies include: Edward Arnold, Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, Wally Brown, James Cagney, William Conrad, Jeff Corey, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Brian Donlevy, Kirk Douglas, Ava Gardner, Cary Grant, Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, Charles Laughton, Fred MacMurray, Charles McGraw, Ray Milland, Edmond O’Brien, Vincent Price, Barbara Stanwyck and Lana Turner.

Steve Martin suggested using footage of William Hartnell, Red Skelton, Jerry Lewis, Jack Benny, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.  But Carl Reiner refused, believing it would be funnier if they used footage of actors who spent their careers away from comedies.

Your Producers for this episode were:

  • Tony
  • Darrell
  • Sam

This episode was recorded: 2/29/2012

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