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Gumshoe (1971)

Gumshoe The mid-life crisis comes early for Eddie Ginley in Gumshoe, a truly odd comedy/drama set in early 70s Liverpool.

Directed by Stephen Frears, Gumshoe stars Albery Finney as Eddie Ginley - unemployed, but making a living as a part-time comic and bingo caller at a local working men's club (run by a bloke called Tommy, played superbly by Bill Dean, later Brookside's Harry Cross). On his 31st birthday and after a meeting with his psychiatrist, he advertises himself in the paper as a private detective, taking on the alter ego of a Sam Spade/Philip Marlowe character.

Amazingly, a call comes in - and he's asked to go to a local hotel. On arrival, Eddie is given a gun, a large amount of money and a picture of a university lecturer. Which sets him on a path to discovering just why he's been chosen for the job. Obviously, it's a case of mistaken identity. And that means someone's going to be after him. Which means Eddie has to solve the case before he gets it in the neck.

It's a very odd movie. Ginley's accent jumps from noir-style detective speak to local Scouse by the second - which you'll either love or hate. And the setting of old Liverpool is a refreshing change from the usual London backdrops of the era (although our man does end up in the capital at one point). But what will make or break the movie for you is the plot - which can be hard going. Drug smuggling, African politics, rival hitmen, sibling rivalry and a woman scorned. It's all in there, along with Ginley's attempt at a showbiz career and his wobbly mental state.

Concentrate and you'll love it. Leave it for a few minutes and you'll be lost, with little or no way back. But with a strong cast, a solid soundtrack (done by Andrew Lloyd Webber no less) and a very interesting/unique concept underpinning the movie, you'll be a fool to pass it by.


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