Mazaný Filip (Smart Philip)

Classic Movie Review: Václav Marhoul's lovingly assembled Raymond Chandler pastiche

Director: Václav Marhoul
Writer: Václav Marhoul
Starring: Tomáš Hanák, Vilma Cibulková, Oldřich Kaiser

From the shouldn't-work-but-it-does file comes this winning Raymond Chandler pastiche/homage, a neat diversion for fans of highbrow detective fiction and lowbrow humor. Writer/director Václav Marhoul, adapting his play, pulls together characters, plot strands and dialogue snatches from Chandler's Philip Marlowe novels and sets them down in a fantasy/backlot LA spattered with flying sight gags and double entendres. As ever with this brand of Airplane!-style kitchen-sink comedy some jokes and references go splat (what the hotel clerk in minstrel-show blackface is doing here I'll never know). But Marhoul keeps the groaner ratio tolerably low and the pace zippy, a who's who of Czech film and TV stars (Pavel Liška, Eva Holubová, Jaroslav Dušek, Viktor Preiss) have fun with campy cameos, and Tomáš Hanák makes an admirably lank, laconic embodiment of Chandler's iconic sleuth. As broad as the movie gets, it keeps a canny grip on the mix of stoic morality and sardonic world-weariness that made Marlowe the greatest of the hard-boiled gumshoe heroes. A parody it may be, but one with real affection for, and even fealty to, its source.

Year: 2003
Runtime: 1 hour, 35 minutes

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