Reviewed bycsrothwecVote: 9/10/10
I recently saw this for the fourth time, the first time having been inthe cinema upon its release. This first viewing saw me classifying itas a pastiche along the lines of Woody Allen's "Play it again, Sam" or"The Black Bird" with George Segal. In fact, the script and acting of"Gumshoe" make it infinitely better than either of these two and put itinto that rare category of films, which actually get BETTER with eachviewing. For a film approaching its fortieth anniversary, obviouslymuch of the background, (such as the physical locations in Liverpooland Billie Whitelaw's being 'locked' into her loveless marriage withFrank Finlay), are now museum pieces/views into the past. Overall,though, the film still comes across as amazingly fresh and entertainsfrom beginning to end. The lightning speed patter and one-liners arerazor sharp and the performances by ALL of the lead characters arestunning. The nearest parallel I can find is "The Third Man" and, whileit is definitely not in that category overall, I still think this is avery good film indeed which was vastly underestimated when it firstcame out,(for example by me!), and which only grows in stature and theenjoyment it affords with each renewed viewing.
Reviewed bynigel-47Vote: 8/10/10
This film buzzes with excitement and whips along at a great pace. It'scliché precisely because Eddie Ginley sees everything that way. That'sthe charm.
The script works well, and is a delight if you concentrate (!) All theactors give deeply - the sparring between Finlay and Finney ismarvellous. How they kept straight faces is a mystery - they seem to beenjoying it so much.
All the locations are raw and stark but never over-done or contrived.What you see is what there was in 1970's Liverpool and London.
A thoroughly enjoyable film with a top-class cast.
Reviewed bydglinkVote: 8/10/10
Produced early in Stephen Frears's nearly forty-year career, "Gumshoe"is an affectionate take on the Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandlerfilm adaptations that were popular in the 1940's. The movie is greatfun, and Bogie aficionados will be especially pleased, if they candecipher the often-impenetrable British accents. Like "The Big Sleep"and other films of the private-eye genre, the plot is a series ofseemingly unconnected events that, in this case, almost literally cometogether at the denouement. The smart banter between Bogart and Bacallechoes in the breathless quips that Albert Finney and Billie Whitelawtrade in some of the film's best moments. A Sydney Greenstreet wannabeis known simply as the fat man, and a dangerous beauty in the personaof Janice Rule is the requisite duplicitous fatale.
As handsome as he was in "Two for the Road" a few years earlier, Finneyappears to be having fun as Eddie Ginley, an English Sam Spade. He hasthe appropriately rumpled demeanor and looks good in a trench coat. Hisdeadpan film-noir-style narration enhances the 1940's feel, although,despite the gritty color, the film cries out for the velvety light andshadows of black-and-white photography. Short, entertaining, and wellmade on all counts, "Gumshoe" is a minor gem that merits moreattention. The film predates "Prick Up Your Ears" and "My BeautifulLaundrette," the director's two breakout films from the mid-1980s, and,after the success of "The Queen" in 2006, viewers owe themselves thepleasure of discovering the talent on display in Stephen Frears's earlyefforts.
Ginley (Albert Finney) is a nightclub bingo caller eager for a career change. On his thirty-first birthday, he advertises himself as a private eye in the newspaper. He dons a trench coat, and begins engaging others in rapid-fire dialogue as if he were Humphrey Bogart, or some Dashiell Hammett creation. Soon after, Ginley is phoned by a fat man, who gives him a package containing a gun, a photograph, and a large sum of money. Eventually Ginley is investigating a case involving smuggling of weapons as well as drugs. Ginley also finds himself at odds with his unsupportive brother, who offers Ginley payment to break off his investigations. Eventually Ginley learns of his brother-in-law's involvement in the crimes at hand. Ginley faces a series of daunting tasks: solving the crimes, bringing justice to the smugglers (and a murderer), as well as maintaining his safety and sanity in the process.