The Late Show (film)

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The Late Show
Lateshowdvd.jpg
DVD cover
Directed by Robert Benton
Produced by Robert Altman
Scott Bushnell
Written by Robert Benton
Starring Art Carney
Lily Tomlin
Bill Macy
Eugene Roche
Joanna Cassidy
Music by Kenneth Wannberg
Cinematography Charles Rosher Jr.
Edited by Peter Appleton
Lou Lombardo
Distributed by Warner Brothers Pictures
Release date(s) April 22, 1977
Running time 93 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Late Show is a 1977 neo-noir, mystery film written and directed by Robert Benton and produced by Robert Altman. It stars Art Carney, Lily Tomlin, Bill Macy, Eugene Roche, and Joanna Cassidy.

A drama with a few comic moments, the story follows an aging detective trying to solve the case of his partner’s murder while dealing with a flamboyant new client.[1]

Benton was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 1977.[2]

Plot[edit]

A financially strained, aging Los Angeles private detective named Ira Wells isn't a well man and is barely active in the business. He is a loner who doesn't much care for company or small talk. When his ex-partner Harry Regan, however, shows up at Ira's boarding house one night mortally wounded while on a case, Ira feels it's up to him to get to the bottom of it.

The trail leads Ira to a small-time fence named Birdwell, whose young bodyguard Lamar is only too happy to rough up the old man when Ira pays a call. But they make a mistake in intimidating and underestimating Ira, who ends up paying Lamar back in kind as well as tracking down Birdwell's missing wife.

Meanwhile, a would-be client named Margo Sperling is introduced to Ira by a mutual acquaintance, Charlie Hatter, a tipster. Margo is a quirky individual who acts as an agent for a singer, sells marijuana on the side and wants to hire Ira to find not a murderer but just her missing cat.

As they get to know each other after a rocky start, Ira and Margo hit it off to the point that she offers to become his new partner. But first they need to deal with a dangerous confrontation in Margo's apartment. [3]

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

In early 1976, Robert Benton brought his script to Robert Altman who, after reading it, decided to produce the film. Production began in spring of 1976 and wrapped in November.[4]

Ruth Nelson, playing the landlady Mrs. Schmidt, was a founder of the Group Theatre. It was her first film role since Arch of Triumph in 1948.

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

The Late Show got extremely positive reviews when it was initially released in 1977. Pauline Kael wrote, "The Late Show never lets up; the editing is by Lou Lombardo (who has often worked with Robert Altman) and Peter Appleton, and I can't think of a thriller from the forties that is as tight as this, or has such sustained tension. ... The Late Show is fast and exciting, but it isn't a thriller, exactly. It's a one-of-a-kind movie—a love-hate poem to sleaziness."[5] The Late Show has a 100% rating at Rotten Tomatoes based on 13 reviews.[6] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times said "And most of all, it's a movie that dares a lot, pulls off most of it, and entertains us without insulting our intelligence" giving the film a four-star rating.[7]

Awards and nominations[edit]

The film received many award nominations, several for Benton's screenplay. Carney's performance won him the Best Actor Award at the National Society of Film Critics award ceremony. Tomlin's performance was nominated for Best Actress at the BAFTA awards and the Golden Globe Awards, and she won the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the 27th Berlin International Film Festival.[8] Benton was nominated for the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, for the WGA Award at the WGA's annual ceremony, and for an Academy Award in the category of Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen. Benton won the award for Best Motion Picture at the Edgar Awards.[9]

Television series[edit]

The film was the inspiration for a short-lived US television series, Eye to Eye (1985).[10][11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Canby, Vincent. "Movies: About The Late Show". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  2. ^ 1977 Oscars - 50th Annual Academy Awards Oscar Winners and Nominees
  3. ^ allmovie ((( The Late Show > Overview )))
  4. ^ Robert Benton: Character Determines Action | GreenCine
  5. ^ Kael, Pauline (February 7, 1977). "The Current Cinema: The Late Show". The New Yorker. pp. 109–112.  Subscription required for online access.
  6. ^ "The Late Show (1977)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009-08-02. 
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger (1977-01-01). "The Late Show Review". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 2009-08-02. Retrieved 2009-08-02. 
  8. ^ "Berlinale 1977: Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2010-07-25. 
  9. ^ The Late Show (1977) - Awards
  10. ^ Maltin, Leonard, ed. (2003). Leonard Maltin's 2004 Movie & Video Guide. Plume. p. 789. "Echoes of Chandler and Hammett resound in Benton's complex but likable script; chemistry between Carney and Tomlin is perfect. Later a short-lived TV series called Eye to Eye (1985)." 
  11. ^ Eye to Eye at the Internet Movie Database

External links[edit]