Tag Archives: David Ogden Stiers

The Set of 400: #158 – My Favorite Especially Good Expectorator

Today! Because we’re not safe until he’s dead/he’ll come stalking us at night –

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Directed by Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise

Starring Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson, Angela Lansbury, Jerry Orbach (x2), David Ogden Stiers (x2), Richard White, Rex Everhart, Jesse Corti, Jo Anne Worley, Kimmy Robertson

Had the Academy not expanded the number of potential Best Picture nominees in a given year to ten, it’s likely we’d still be referring to Beauty and the Beast as the only animated movie ever put up for the top award, back in 1991. Sure, maybe this doesn’t seem like anything now, as there have now been wholly three animated films in the big contest, as of this writing – along with Up in 2010 and Toy Story 3 in 2011 – never mind that they added a Best Animated Feature category since BatB days, but it getting in alongside #174 Silence of the Lambs and #357 JFK and Bugsy was a huge deal at the time. However, despite the large number of ’91 films on this list (this is #11!), it was a weak enough year that The Prince of Tides was the fifth Best Picture nominee, so…

Ugh, Prince of Tides

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The Set of 400: #273 – My Favorite Cabbie Bias

Today! Because I’m using rented bullets for my gun. We’ve all got problems –

The Cheap Detective (1978)

Directed by Robert Moore

Starring Peter Falk, Madeline Kahn, John Houseman, Stockard Channing, James Coco (x2), Eileen Brennan, Dom DeLuise (x3), Louise Fletcher, Marsha Mason, Abe Vigoda, Vic Tayback, David Ogden Stiers, Scatman Crothers (x2), Nicol Williamson, Paul Williams, Phil Silvers, Fernando Lamas, Sid Caesar, Ann-Margret, James Cromwell, Jonathan Banks (x2)

A spiritual sequel to the zany Neil Simon comedy Murder By Death, The Cheap Detective is a more direct parody than its predecessor, taking Peter Falk’s twisted Bogart impression and slamming Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, and The Big Sleep together into one silly 1940’s San Francisco mystery, replete with Nazis, secret identities, Romanians, stolen treasure, and an acronymed pseudo-villain named Vladimir Tserijemiwtz, which works out to Ezra C.V. Mildew Dezire Jr.!

Many members of the large cast appeared in Murder By Death as well, including Coco, Brennan, and Cromwell, but Falk’s is the only character transplanted over more or less intact, even with a different name (Lou Peckinpaugh here, Sam Diamond in Murder). These movies are in the rare group of Neil Simon screenplays that weren’t adapted from his stage plays, which includes The Out-of-Towners, The Goodbye Girl, and Seems Like Old Times. They do, however, have that indefinable Neil Simon-ness about their jokes, which mostly land, even if they can verge into mild racism here and there. Ah, the 1970s!

And some vintage Sid Caesar shtick!

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