Stephen Frear’s debut feature is part pastiche and part traditional thriller. Despite its parody approach, Gumshoe works surprisingly well and comes off as an affectionate tribute to The Maltese Falcon and the hardboiled noir films of yore.
A Liverpudlian comedian and bingo-caller, Eddie Ginley (Albert Finney), fantasizes of becoming a private eye in the style of Raymond Chandler’s gumshoe Philip Marlowe.
Ginley’s level-headed brother (Frank Finlay) and ex-girlfriend (Billie Whitelaw) try to talk him out of it but he inadvertently stumbles across a real-life murder mystery.
Acting out his daydream, he advertises his services in a Liverpool newspaper as a private investigator and in a little while he’s involved in a complex mystery when hired by the mysterious Fat Man (George Silver).
After receiving a package containing a photo of a young woman (Carolyn Seymour), a gun and £1,000 Finney becomes immersed in an extraordinarily convoluted mystery from Liverpool to London involving drug smuggling, gun-running and African politics.
Produced by Finney’s own company.