Beverly Hills Cop

[audio:/podcasts/pdm18.mp3]
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Story: A Detroit cop head to Beverly Hills to investigate the death of one of his buddies.

Detective: Axel Foley

Release Date:  December 5, 1984

Writer: Danilo Back, Daniel Petrie, Jr.

Source: original screenplay

Mystery Analysis:
Detective as protagonist?

Alastair: Yes, there’s no doubt this is Axel’s story.
Lani: Yes, always clear from the start who the protagonist is, although the trouble doesn’t start until a little while in.

Murderer as antagonist?
Alastair: Yes, albeit by proxy.
Lani: Yes, although not the guy who actually pulled the trigger, it’s Victor Maitland who’s behind everything from the start.

Conflict created by mystery/murder?
Alastair: Yes, although this is an interesting case of a murder that builds into a larger mystery.
Lani: Yes; without the murder, Axel would have no interest in Maitland.

Fair play with all the clues given?
Alastair: It’s not that kind of mystery, I think, although the meaning of each clue — except perhaps the coffee — is transparent enough that we can keep up.
Lani: Not really; although we do see the clues, we don’t know what they might mean, and we’re not given the opportunity to play along the way a good mystery does.

Solved using deduction, not luck?
Alastair: Yes, although the problems aren’t necessarily approached in the smartest way.
Lani: Yes. Even if we don’t understand what’s going on, Axel does, and he puts it all together.

All threads pull together in the end?
Alastair: Yes, if a little too early. The mystery is done by the end of the second act, and then we get twenty-five minutes of shoot-out.
Lani: Yes.

Story Analysis & Ratings:

Alastair says: 4 Pops
Mystery: 3, Craft: 3, Suspense: 2, Romance: N/A, Comedy: 5

Lani says: 4 Pops
Mystery: 3, Craft: 4, Suspense: 2, Romance: n/a, Comedy: 5

 

Fletch

Fletch

Story: A journalist covering the drug scene on a Los Angeles beach soon finds himself embroiled in a bigger mystery involving a bigamist and his beautiful wife.
Detective: Irwin M. Fletcher
Release Date:  May 31, 1985
Writer: Andrew Bergman
Source: Fletch by Gregory McDonald
Mystery Analysis:
Detective as protagonist?

Jenny: Yep, right off the bat.  Good start.
Lani: Yes, and he’s right into the trouble as soon as the movie fades in. Well done.
Murderer as antagonist?
Jenny: Yep, right off the bat.  Plus Tim Matheson.  Excellent start.
Lani: Yes, and he’s there from the start. You could argue that Karlin is also an antagonist, and you’d be right, but he’s also there at the start; although we don’t see him until later, his influence is right there, causing trouble on the beach when Gummy’s getting beat up. So no matter who you think the main antagonist is – it’s Matheson – both antagonists are active in the opening scene.
Conflict created by mystery/murder?
Jenny: Yes, by the request for murder.
Lani: Yes.
Fair play with all the clues given?
Jenny: Yep, we see them as Fletch finds them.
Lani: Yes; we see everything as Fletch finds it. We don’t get his deduction; he says he figured it out when Gail said he was about the same size as her husband, and he doesn’t tell us that. He doesn’t have to. We get the clue, and we can make the deduction from that as well. I kind of liked that he had it figured, but we still had to do our own work.
Solved using deduction, not luck?
Jenny: Yes.  Except for the glaring coincidence at the beginning which is allowable since it’s the first move in the plot, every is discovered using logical deduction.
Lani: Yes; Fletch (well, Smart Fletch) figures it all out on his own. Stupid Fletch sticks straws up his nose.

Story Analysis & Ratings:

Jenny says: 3 Pops  (They had a good book and they put garbage in it.)
Mystery: 5, Craft: 2, Suspense: 2, Romance: N/A, Comedy: 3
Lani says: 4 Pops
Mystery: 5, Craft: 4, Suspense: 2, Romance: n/a, Comedy: 3

IMPORTANT NOTE: I recommended the Fletch books on the podcast, and then afterward sat down to read the first book for the first time in about twenty years.  In this book, he sleeps with a fifteen-year-old, a detail I evidently missed the first time around.  I no longer recommend the Fletch books. Try the Flynn books. Francis Xavier Flynn is a good guy.

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A Week Off…

Well, we watched Clue this week, and it turned out to be no better than High Anxiety or Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid as far as story analysis goes, and we just couldn’t put y’all through another “We got nothing,” show, so we bagged the podcast for this week and went a-hunting for comedic mysteries we know will work. We still feel pretty good about The Big Lebowski and Hot Fuzz, so those will still be on the roster, but we’re going to come back with a few more comedic mysteries on the back end so we can get our analysis in.

So – we’ll be back next Monday with a new podcast and in the meantime, our advice to you is – don’t watch Clue. There are funny moments, but no real story. See you next week!

The Big Easy

 

[audio:/podcasts/pdm12.mp3]
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Story: A New Orleans detective investigates mob killings.

Detective: Remy McSwain

Release Date: August 21, 1987

Writer: Daniel Petrie, Jr.

Mystery Analysis:
Detective as protagonist?

Jenny: Absolutely.  Arrives at the scene of the crime, bigger than life, and takes control.
Lani: Yes, and he’s on the case right out of the gate.

Murderer as antagonist?
Jenny: Yes.  The antagonist is kind of a doppleganger for Remy, and its his minions who do the dirty work at his behest, but he’s right there in the first scene with the protagonist, playing him from the beginning.
Lani: Present and messing things up right from the start.

Conflict created by murder?
Jenny: Yes.  The murders block the romance plot and fuel the mystery plot, forcing Remy’s character arc.
Lani: Yes, as well as the mystery of the missing drugs.

Fair play with all the clues given?
Jenny: With one exception, we get them when Remy gets them.  He reads something that he doesn’t tell Ann about, but two scenes later, he confronts the antagonist with what he knows.  I’m not sure how that could have been put on the screen in the discovery scene.
Lani: For the most part, excluding the stuff he reads, but then we’re informed in the next scene.

Solved using deduction, not luck?
Jenny: Yes.
Lani: Yes; Remy gets the evidence, evaluates it, and figures it out all on his own.

Story Analysis & Ratings:

Jenny says: 5 Pops
Mystery: 5, Craft: 5, Suspense: 5, Romance: 5

Lani says: 5 Pops
Mystery: 5, Craft: 5, Suspense: 5, Romance: 5

Trenchcoat

[audio:/podcasts/pdm11.mp3]
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Story: A mystery writer goes to Malta to experience danger, and finds it.

Detective: Mickey Raymond/Terry Leonard

Release Date: March 11, 1983

Writer: Jeffrey Price, Peter Seaman

Mystery Analysis:
Detective as protagonist?

Jenny: Yes, it starts with her voiceover and she pretty much owns the movie all the way through.  Almost all the scenes are in her POV.
Lani: Yes; she sees herself as a detective, and even though she’s smart enough to turn to the police when things go wrong, when they refuse to help, she steps in and figures it out on her own.

Murderer as antagonist?
Jenny: Yes.  The first body pops up early, so you know they’re on the job.
Lani: Yes, and physically present from very early in.

Conflict created by murder?
Jenny: Yes.  Micky really doesn’t have much choice since she’s suspected of the crime.  I love her answer to Terry’s “What made you decide to play detective” question: “I got tired of being the victim.”
Lani: Yes, and Micky’s desire to figure out who the bad guy is.

Fair play with all the clues given?
Jenny: Yes.
Lani: Yes, with nice surprises all the way through.

Solved using deduction, not luck?
Jenny: Yes.  It’s something Micky needs to do to feel important, I think.  The look on her face when Terry tells she did a good job figuring things out is wonderful.
Lani: Well, if you don’t consider them being tied up by the bad Irish couple “luck,” since they didn’t realize they were the bad guys until then.

Story Analysis & Ratings:

Jenny says: 5 Pops
Mystery: 5, Craft: 5, Suspense: 5, Romance: 5

Lani says: 5 Pops
Mystery: 5, Craft: 5, Suspense: 5, Romance: 5