absolutely and beyond any shadow of a doubt the God’s own gospel truth
about L.A., a very bitter pill to swallow, which is what makes it so funny. The
major point of departure is Annie Hall’s “Munchkinland,”
that little aperçu in a side glance of what is now, if not The Stupidest Place
On Earth, well on its way. The direction is very good and very appropriate,
quickly snapping slapstick gags with dry dispatch, as for instance Martin
roller-skating through the Los Angeles County Museum of Art like Truman Capote
on wheels, but who talks movies in L.A.?
If the shoes are cruel, they must be in fashion.
“Knowledge Is Power”, says an inscription on the wall of the foyer in Los Angeles City Hall. The ancient teaching was that it is memory as well. The private detective suffering from amnesia each night remembers the girl’s name the following morning. The “coin of royal power” (Chinese, most ancient known) is attached to the collar of his one-eyed dog. A wealthy collector wants it, and so does his doctor.
The ambience of the film is loosely related to Altman’s The Long Goodbye, the detective’s digs are near Venice Beach, the comedy of the dog recalls Philip Marlowe’s cat. The poor critter just misses the food placed in front of it until the wall it sidesteps into gives it correct vantage.
The Sternwood Beach Club is another incarnation brought to mind. “So what’s it gonna be,” asks the detective of a muralist who stares and then paints out the outlined Mona Lisa on an outside wall.
The critics thought it was Groundhog Day all over again. Dupin, Holmes and Poirot deduce from memory, Marlowe brings the truth to light by action.