The Late Show
Robert Benton was a journalist who cowrote the screenplay for Bonnie and Clyde. The Late Show was his second film as writer-director (after Bad Company, a western with Jeff Bridges), and it’s an affectionate tribute to the detective movies of the 30s and 40s, featuring a private eye who was old enough to have been around back then in the film noir days (Art Carney found fame back in the 50s in the TV sitcom The Honeymooners). Ira Wells (Carney) comes out of retirement when his old partner Harry dies on his doorstep with a bullet in his chest. So what had he been working on? The case of a missing cat… Lily Tomlin, Harry’s kooky client, joins forces with Ira to unearth the truth – and get her cat back.
A kinder, gentler film than The Long Goodbye, The Late Show is less invested in mood and more interested in the odd couple at its heart. The good news is that Art Carney and Lily Tomlin seize this opportunity and deliver performances that are both believable and immensely charming. Benton, of course, would go on to make Kramer vs Kramer just three years later.
A funny, touching pastiche about times and people out of joint.
David Robinson, The Times
Lily Tomlin isn’t just the heroine, she’s the picture’s comic muse… The Late Show never lets up… I can’t think of a thriller from the 40s that’s as tight as this, or has such sustained tension. [It’s a] love-hate poem to sleaziness.
Pauline Kael, New Yorker
Aug 17 Only: Introduction from novelist Iona Whishaw (Lane Winslow mysteries series)
Peter Appleton, Lou Lombardo