|Genre: Crime, Mystery, Drama, Comedy, Detectives, Murder, Investigation, Revenge, Blackmail|
Plot: Art Carney stars as aging gumshoe Ira Wells in Robert Benton's affectionately offbeat homage to the detective genre. With a bad leg, a hearing aid, and a bleeding ulcer, the sixtysomething private investigator, who lives in a seedy L.A. boardinghouse, is well past his physical prime but still manages to make ends meet at his trade. When Margo (Lily Tomlin), a ditsy 1960s refugee in her thirties, tries to hire him to find her missing cat, Ira's enthusiasm is limited. But after agreeing to help her, he realizes that Ron Birdwell (Eugene Roche), the fence who stole her cat, may also be involved in the death of his partner, Harry (Howard Duff). As Ira continues his investigation into his partner's death, Margo proves to be sharper than her appearance suggests, and the two begin an uneasy alliance. While more than fulfilling the required twists of the genre, THE LATE SHOW is less about the murder mystery than the seriocomic relationship that develops between the two idiosyncratic protagonists. The chemistry between Carney and Tomlin is nearly perfect, and Benton's subtle script (nominated for a Best Original Screenplay Academy Award) is able to suggest both the loneliness and the shared qualities that bring this seemingly disparate pair together.
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