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The Singing Detective

I’m curious to see the new Robert Downey Jr. movie, “The Singing Detective”. It’s a remake of a 1986 miniseries starring Michael Gambon as mystery writer Philip Marlow (no “e”), who is hospitalized with a debilitating disease and struggling to discern reality from hallucinations based on the plot of one of his pulp novels.

It was a fascinating production, with a great script by Dennis Potter, who himself suffered the disease that afflicted Marlow, and an excellent supporting cast with two of my favorite actors, Jim Carter and Patrick Malahide (“Inspector Alleyn”), and Joanne Whalley, Val Kilmer’s ex. To give you an idea of how good it was, voters at the Internet Movie Database gave “The Singing Detective” an average rating of 9.4 out of 10.

Downey is one of the few actors I can imagine pulling off this role, although I was disappointed to see that the character’s name has been changed from Philip Marlow to Dan Dark. The supporting cast looks great, too; it includes Jon Polito, Saul Rubinek, and Mel Gibson–who, by the way, produced the movie. He and Downey have been friends since they made “Air America” together ten years ago, and Mel is giving his friend a helping hand with a starring role that already has some people talking Oscar.

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