The Private Eyes

The Private Eyes (1980), co-starring Tim Conway and Don Knotts

Don Knotts and Tim Conway co-star in The Private Eyes –  a silly little comedy where they spoof the murder mystery in general, and Sherlock Holmes in particular.  Called from Scotland Yard, Inspector Winthrop (played by Don Knotts), and his bumbling assistant Dr. Tart (played with mindless abandon by Tim Conway) to solve the murder of Lord Morely, the plot begins to resemble “Ten Little Indians” as people are killed off, one by one, with a not-quite-rhyming note left behind by the murderer.  The Private Eyes, starring Don Knotts and Tim ConwayIt’s not one of the classic comedies of the 20th Century, but it’s certainly an enjoyable 90 minutes.  Gene Siskel described it as “A Perfect Saturday Matinee,” and I tend to agree with him.  For a different opinion, check out the editorial review from Amazon.com below.

Editorial review of The Private Eyes co-starring Don Knotts and Tim Conway, courtesy of Amazon.com

Don Knotts and Tim Conway star in The Private Eyes, a 1980 comedy about two bumbling detectives solving a murder. It’s an impressively incompetent affair. Every ancient joke falls with a muffled thud as Knotts and Conway ham their way through the pointless story: The lord and lady of a capacious manor are killed, and the lord’s ghost seems to have returned to knock off the staff one by one.

There’s an austere housekeeper, a snooty butler with compulsive twitches, a sexy upstairs maid, a deformed groomsman, and a buxom young heir to the estate, who of course is going to be in some state of undress before the movie is over. People get killed, their bodies disappear, Knotts and Conway wander aimlessly through secret passageways, dimly seeking some way out of this movie. Conway cowrote the script, so he gets most of the blame; Knotts was probably just happy to have the work. —Bret Fetzer

Be sure to check out the funny movie quotes from The Private Eyes

Cast of characters in The Private Eyes

  • Inspector Winship(Don Knotts, The Incredible Mr. LimpetThe Andy Griffith Show).  Don Knotts puts his nervous everyman character to good use as the inept investigating officer.  He’s driven to the edge of insanity by his “assistant”:
  • Dr. Tart (Tim Conway, The Apple Dumpling Gang).  Tim Conway and Don Knotts make a great comedy team, never more so than here.  Dr. Tart is inept, simpleminded, and prone to unhelpful helping such as his clock gun.
  • Phyllis Morley (Trisha Noble).  The lovely young heir to the estate.
  • Justin (Bernard FoxHogan’s HeroesThe Rescuers).  A very funny role as the neurotic butler, by a very funny character actor.
  • Nanny (Grace ZabriskieArmageddonThe Grudge).  Another character at the mansion, who manages to … control … the butler.
  • Hilda (Suzy Mandel).  The upstairs maid with an hour-glass figure.  A one-dimensional character.

 

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