The Private Eyes (1980 film)

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The Private Eyes
The-private-eyes.jpg
DVD cover
Directed by Lang Elliott
Produced by Wanda Dell
Lang Elliott
Written by Tim Conway
John Myhers
Starring Tim Conway
Don Knotts
Trisha Noble
Bernard Fox
Grace Zabriskie
Irwin Keyes
Suzy Mandel
Music by Peter Matz
Cinematography Jacques Haitkin
Edited by Patrick M. Crawford
Fabien D. Tordjmann
Production
company
The Private Eyes Partners Limited
Distributed by New World Pictures
CBS
Hen's Tooth Video
Release dates April 17, 1980 (1980-04-17)
Running time 91 min.
Country  United States
Language English
Budget $2.3 million[1]
Box office $18,014,000 (US)

The Private Eyes is an 1980 American comedy mystery film starring Tim Conway and Don Knotts. The pair play bumbling American detectives who (unexplainedly) work for Scotland Yard, obvious parodies of Sherlock Holmes & Doctor Watson. The movie was filmed at Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.

The film is directed by Lang Elliott, and marks the final pairing of Conway and Knotts, not counting their cameos as two California Highway Patrol officers in the 1984 film Cannonball Run II.

Plot[edit]

The film opens early in the twentieth century, at an English country mansion with the apparent murder of Lord and Lady Morley in their car by a figure in a black cape. Inspector Winship (Knotts) and Dr. Tart (Conway), two American detectives transferred over to Scotland Yard, then travel to the Morley mansion, brandishing a letter from the late Lord Morley asking him to investigate his own murder. They encounter the heiress (Trisha Noble) and a questionable staff. As the two investigate the murder, each of the staff, which includes a Japanese samurai caricature, a hunchback, a busty maid, a gypsy, and an insane butler to mention a few, are seemingly killed. However, each of their bodies disappear before the detectives can show them to the heiress. The detectives then wind up in a "torture chamber" (whose purpose is not explained), where Winship is caught in a deadly trap until the caped figure ("The Shadow") leaps out to rescue him.

A boa constrictor then frightens them into a trash compactor, where they survive being compressed into a bale of garbage. Once out of the garbage, they find the heiress taking the Morley money and preparing to leave the mansion. She then confesses to having killed the Morleys for their money as she has a gambling habit. Planning to kill the detectives and escape the mansion, she falls backward into a flower bed while retreating, where she is grabbed by the shadowy figure, who has been hiding in the dirt. The shadow scares her to the point that she faints, at which time the shadow takes off his cape, revealing himself to be Lord Morley! Morley had escaped the car and gathered the staff in order to gain their help in a plan to force the heiress into confessing to the murder of his wife and attempt on his own life. Lord Morley remained "dead" (in hiding) as part of the plan, writing the letter to Scotland Yard in order to request Winship and Tart as investigators, presumably because of their incompetence, noted early on in the film. As Morley continues his tale, the members of the staff arrive, having faked their own deaths as part of the plan. The heiress is then arrested and the Private Eyes are thanked with a gift of a very rare sarcophagus, which is placed in their car.

As Winship and Tart enter their car and start driving, they get into an argument over the existence of creatures known as "Wookalars," said to be manlike creatures with superhuman strength and a pig-like face. The film ends with the private eyes' car careening down the road as they scream in terror, due to the sudden appearance of a Wookalar from their newly acquired sarchophagus.

Main cast[edit]

Reception[edit]

The film was enormously popular, earning $12 million in rentals during its initial release, and becoming the most popular movie made at New World Pictures under Roger Corman.[1][2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Christopher T Koetting, Mind Warp!: The Fantastic True Story of Roger Corman's New World Pictures, Hemlock Books. 2009 p 172, 188-190
  2. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081376/trivia?ref_=tt_trv_trv

External links[edit]