The Singing Detective [DVD] 
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The big-screen version of Dennis Potter's dark, claustrophobic comedy. Robert Downey Jr stars as Dan Dark, the psoriasis-ridden writer confined to a hospital bed. Desperately uncomfortable, feverish and increasingly paranoid, he begins to rework his first novel in his mind. Over time he works himself into the novel, becoming the detective trying to solve the murder of a prostitute. Others from his real life, including his wife, also turn up as characters in the novel, and soon he finds himself reliving childhood experiences he thought he had forgotten. Film noir, black comedy and musical moments conspire to create the atmosphere of this intense and unusual film.
If you can pull the 2003 film version of The Singing Detective out from under the long shadow cast by the acclaimed 1986 miniseries, Keith Gordon's 109-minute film version achieves its own distinction. It was a daring (and some might say foolhardy) assignment to film Dennis Potter's screenplay, written out of Potter's desire to see his semi-autobiographical drama in feature-length form, but Gordon rose to the occasion with a superlative cast led by Robert Downey Jr, intense as ever as Potter's on-screen alter ego. Bedridden with an excruciating case of skin-rotting psoriasis, pulp novelist Dan Dark (Downey) escapes into his vivid imagination, where gunmen and gumshoes pursue their pulpy agenda, casting himself as the titular "warbler" whose pain and anger is focused like a laser on his cheating wife (Robin Wright Penn) and anyone else who's made his real and imaginary worlds unbearable. Coproducer Mel Gibson appears under heavy makeup as Dark's condescending psychiatrist, and supporting roles are played with stylish flair by Adrien Brody, Katie Holmes, Jeremy Northam, Carla Gugino and others. While many critics called this a noble failure, The Singing Detective captures the essence of Potter's story, offering a welcome alternative to the acknowledged superiority of the miniseries. --Jeff Shannon
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Top Customer Reviews
Produced by Mel Gibson who choose both the director and the lead, hiring Downey in a period of his life where he was unassurable and giving him the chance to demonstrate once again his talent.
This makes me appreciate once more Gibson as a person not only as an actor. He cut for himself a support role which shows him in a strange bald character with thick glasses.
The Singing Detective is based on a script written by Dennis Potter the author of the TV series of 1986 with the same name with Michael Gambon as the lead, who managed to shrink 8 hours of TV movie into 2 hours of film and made it perfectly. Mel Gibson in an interview in the DVD extras defines Potter a Genious and I agree.
Why buy it?
1) Robert Downey Junior and Mel Gibson.
2) The fabulous songs from the fifties.
3) A script built on a disgusting disease that originates a great movie.
Last but not least, listen to Robert Downey Junior in the end credits singing one of the movie songs showing that even if the script was written to use playback he could have sang all the songs.
The DVD has not many extras, just the cast and director interviews, but it is definitely worth buying. "I'm just a squirrel waiting for a nut!" one of the best thank yous I've ever listened to.
Hope to make you curious enough to buy it.
As he tries to recover in hospital, he constantly flashes back to the pages of his book, going over story lines and characters.
Robert Downey Jr also plays the part of 'The Singing Detective' the warbler who solves people's problems. This film is very clever at playing the two story lines together and it shows Robert Downey Jr's amazing talent at playing 2 very different characters in 1 movie.
This film has an amazing soundtrack with so many songs from the 50's era.
You have to see this film.
Robert Downey Jnr gives one of his best performances and shows his true ability to undertake theatrical style work seriously and credibly, if not also admirably so considering the standard this work will always be judged by. He alone makes this the success that it is visually if not comercially. Brody at times was as he is rather wooden but he makes a fair attempt at the role if perhaps a little miscast. Katie Holmes although in her typical sweet role really makes an effort to get to grips with it too and proves she is more than a pretty face.
The visual style is at first a little strange perhaps and different from expectations - yet it ties in well with trying to recreate a theatre atmosphere, a direct viewer/play mode with camera angles, lighting and extended acting mannerisms. Being a film not a play experience this takes a while to get used to but is in itself a meticulous and conscientious if not always beneficial element that might be interpretated wrongly as simply modern style. The scenery and flashbacks work well and the story is both interesting, suspenseful and coherant.
If you withold from making comparisons and try to evaluate this adaptation as a seperate entity, and also consider it's American production, I don't think you can say there's much to find fault here at all.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I didn't watch the British TV series with Michael Gambon, so can't compare it, but bought this solely because it stars RDJ. Read morePublished on 26 Oct. 2013 by J. J. Miles
The original is better but I think Robert Downey jr made this a good remake.I have enjoyed both but the original has a slight edgePublished on 28 Sept. 2013 by Margarette
Loved this being a RDJ fan but Mel Gibson is great in it too. Enjoyed it as much as the bbc series of same namePublished on 2 Nov. 2012 by jennifer bloomer