The Late Show

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Christopher Bligh

Plot: What’s it about?

To many Art Carney is known as Ed Norton, the loveable sewer worker neighbor of Ralph Kramden on the classic sitcom The Honeymooners. Little do most of today’s audiences know of his award winning work in the seventies as the loveable retiree with a cat in Harry and Tonto. It was later in this decade that Carney got the lead in the last part of the “Hollywood private detective” trilogy, which included films such as The Long Goodbye and Night Moves, as he put his own spin along with one of the directors of that trilogy producing a simple tale known as The Late Show.

Ira (Art Carney) is a man past his time who used to be the best at what he did as a private investigator. He’s called back to duty thanks to a friend at his door and the disappearance of a cat. It seems the both of these little things are connected and Ira along with the owner of that cat named Margo (Lily Tomlin) lead a trail that leads to a bigger picture and a few shady individuals all in the name of who did what and how in tinseltown.

It seems that the two other films in this trilogy dealt with actors putting their unconventional spin on the private detective that was of a time of a code of honor in a modern day world and slightly being out of touch but never being totally out of it and The Late Show is clearly another great example as it takes a more simpler approach than the other three with a seventies film that would’ve much better been done in the forties (and even that is evident with the old school WB logo at the beginning of the film),

Art Carney gives a tremendous performance as Ira, a detective whos certainly proves despite flaws and not getting around moreso like others, shows that old habits and methods die hard. Lily Tomlin gives wonderful support as the kooky actress who might know a thing or two more than she appears to as well as going along the ride that is Ira’s world.

This is a very interior movie that keeps many eggs in a basket and not too much for exteriors (with very few exceptions) but gets all of its duties handled by the dialogue and elements that lead to another in a very straight forward fashion and this is credit to director Robert Benton who took a more serious approach later on with the film Twilight but came up with a lesser result despite a bigger cast, which goes to show with this film that less is more (as said in his other film Nobody’s Fool) and pay close attention for in a crucial role, a young Joanna Cassidy of Blade Runner fame turns up.

In addition, there is a solid music score done by Kenneth Wannberg, who hits the right bit of excitement at the right time and is a memorable score from a now well known editor of music in many big feature films as of late.

Does the girl get the cat? Does he solve the case? Tune in again to The Late Show for to put it simply is never too much with so little and is a very good film because of it.

Video: How does it look?

The Late Show is presented in the 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and while its not a film that is shot on a wide landscape (as the film is mostly used through interiors), the print is decent but not great. Granted, the colors are on and not too washed out but the stock of the film has a bit of a few specks popping up every now and then and it doesn’t help matters either when the darker scenes get affected with it the most.

Audio: How does it sound?

Aside from some effects and Wannberg’s score, the Dolby Digital mono track doesn’t really cry to be a demonstration of ones home entertainment system as the track is standard fare where the dialogue and score come out clearly but looping is evident and it makes for a good track but not a great one. Then again, greatness is not expected in a standard track. This disc also has a French Mono track along with English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Aside from a spoiler filled theatrical trailer, the only extra that is on this DVD in addition to that is a clip from Dinah! that features Lily Tomlin plugging the film in the company of The Doobie Bros. along with showing a clip from the film. It’s a nice time capsule to a simpler time when talk shows were fun and sociable unlike today which has succumbed to redundancy. Nevertheless, Tomlin gets to demonstrate one of her most famous characters in this piece. (2.0)

A small gem from a great decade, The Late Show is a film that is worth watching particularly for its unconventional casting choices that provide a little bit of everything in a private detective tale that makes for a fitting end to a solid trilogy of film (though not intended to be) set in the backdrop of 70s Hollywood. It’s worth owning and worth any viewers time.

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