Eyes Right
The Thrilling Detective/CrimeSeen Movie/TV Poll


BEST P.I. FILM

  • The Maltese Falcon
  • The Maltese Falcon
  • Zero Effect
  • Twilight
  • Harper
  • The Long Goodbye
  • Harper
  • Chinatown
  • Everybody Wins
  • The Big Sleep
  • Night Moves
  • Murder My Sweet
  • Chinatown
  • The Long Goodbye
  • Murder My Sweet
  • Shaft, the best Mike Hammer film Spillane never wrote.
  • Out of the Past.
  • You Never Can Tell.
  • The 1941 version of The Maltese Falcon.
  • Twilight.
  • Kiss Me, Deadly
  • Chinatown

BEST ACTOR IN A P.I. FILM

  • Bogart in The Maltese Falcon, close second Dick Powell in Murder My Sweet.
  • Paul Newman in Twilight.
  • Paul Newman in Harper.
  • Elliot Gould, The Long Goodbye
  • Paul Newman, Harper.
  • Robert Mitchum, Farewell, My Lovely.
  • Bogie in The Maltese Falcon or Paul Newman in Twilight.
  • Gene Hackman in Night Moves.
  • Paul Newman in The Drowning Pool
  • Humphrey Bogart in Big Sleep
  • Nick Nolte in Arthur Miller's Everybody Wins (not a great film, but Nolte was perfect).
  • Dick Powell in Murder My Sweet. The best Marlowe ever.
  • Art Carney, The Late Show.
  • Paul Newman, Harper
  • Elliot Gould, The Long Goodbye
  • Dick Powell in Murder My Sweet
  • Richard Roundtree as Shaft.
  • Robert Mitchum in Out of the Past.
  • Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon.
  • The best actor should be Robert Mitchum, who was potentially the best Philip Marlowe that never played the role until he was too old to even move gracefully--see Farewell, My Lovely. In lieu of voting for Mitchum for roles he never played, I vote him in for Out of the Past. Failing Mitchum, then Paul Newman in Harper, or Twilight, and HB in The Maltese Falcon.
  • Jack Nicolson
  • Jack Nicholson (Chinatown)

BEST ACTRESS IN A P.I. FILM

  • Bette Davis in Satan Met a Lady.
  • Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep
  • I dunno, just pick a gal.
  • Faye Dunaway, Chinatown
  • Can't remember her name but the gal in The Maltese Falcon
  • Myrna Loy in The Thin Man.
  • On the theory that a lead performance in a private eye film must be AS a private eye, my pick, from a limited field, Pippa Guard as Cordelia Gray in the An Unsuitable Job For a Woman.
  • Best female by far is Mary Astor in The Maltese Falcon.
  • Mary Astor.
  • Faye Dunaway (Chinatown)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A P.I. FILM

  • Elisha Cook, Jr. in The Maltese Falcon.
  • Elisha Cook, Jr, in both the Falcon and The Big Sleep or Don Cheadle in Devil In a Blue Dress
  • That dude who played Casper Gutman. Can't remember the name offhand. And Harry Dean Stanton as P.I. Johnny Farragut in David Lynch's Wild at Heart.
  • Don Cheadle as Mouse in Blue Dress.
  • Sterling Hayden, The Long Goodbye; Joe Pantoliano, Memento; oh yeah, and certainly Harry Dean Stanton in Wild At Heart...
  • Don Cheadle Devil In A Blue Dress.
  • Asta.
  • Sidney Greenstreet as Casper Gutman in The Maltese Falcon.
  • Robert DeNiro (Angel Heart).
  • James Garner (Twilight)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A P.I. FILM

  • Dorothy Malone in The Big Sleep--just because.
  • Lucille Ball in The Dark Corner.
  • Lily Tomlin in The Late Show.
  • If Goldie Hawn was in any of them, she wins.
  • Melanie Griffith in Night Moves. Perfect as a jailbait bimbo. Too bad she's still playing the same role.
  • Dorothy Malone, The Big Sleep.
  • Claire Trevor as Velma in Murder My Sweet.
  • Lily Tomlin (The Late Show)

BEST DIRECTOR IN A P.I. FILM

  • John Huston, The Maltese Falcon.
  • Roman Polanski - Chinatown
  • Aw, hell, let me think... If John Carpenter ever makes a P.I. film, he wins. If he never does, I'll just go with Hawks for The Big Sleep.
  • Edward Dymytryk, Murder, My Sweet.
  • John Huston, The Maltese Falcon (about as impressive a debut as you get)
  • Stephen Frears, Gumshoe
  • Whoever directed Murder My Sweet (Edward Dymytryk)
  • John Huston for The Maltese Falcon.
  • Roman Polanski
  • Roman Polanski (Chinatown)

BEST ADAPTATION IN A P.I. FILM

  • Whoever adapted Murder, My Sweet.
  • The Maltese Falcon.
  • Marlowe, from The Little Sister (dialogue almost word for word).
  • The Maltese Falcon.
  • The Maltese Falcon
  • Murder My Sweet.
  • The Maltese Falcon; although I still have a soft spot for The Long Goodbye.
  • Murder My Sweet
  • Out of the Past.
  • The Big Sleep.
  • The Big Sleep? You've got to be kidding. The best Chandler adaptation by far is Murder My Sweet.
  • John Huston for The Maltese Falcon.
  • Maltese Falcon
  • Whoever wrote the screenplay for Harper (forget which Ross McDonald novel that came from)

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY IN A P.I. FILM

  • Chinatown by Robert Towne.
  • Zero Effect.
  • Chinatown.
  • Chinatown.
  • Twilight - The ending Lew Archer never got to have.
  • Another "Aw, hell". Most of the P.I. flicks I've seen are adaptions of one sort or another...
  • Night Moves.
  • The Late Show.
  • Christopher Nolan, Memento
  • Chinatown
  • Robert Towne's (with uncredited, and unwanted, collaboration from Roman Polanski) for Chinatown.
  • Twilight.
  • Chinatown
  • Night Moves
  • Robert Towne (Chinatown)

BEST P.I. TV SHOW

  • Can't remember any outstanding PI TV shows.
  • Mannix.
  • The Rockford Files.
  • Harry O
  • The Outsider
  • Man In A Suitcase.
  • Honey West; Legwork (Best female P.I. show)
  • Peter Gunn.
  • The Rockford Files
  • The first Mike Hammer series with Stacey Keach. Magnum P.I. too.
  • City of Angels.
  • Harry O.
  • Public Eye
  • Man In A Suitcase
  • The Rockford Files, of course...
  • Mannix.
  • Spenser For Hire
  • Peter Gunn
  • Peter Gunn
  • City of Angels. This should be released on DVD -- I'd buy it.
  • Rockford and Magnum for sheer enjoyment. Harry O for existential angst. Murder She Wrote for best cozy.
  • Banacek. So shoot me.
  • ROCKFORD!
  • RockfordJ
  • Magnum, P.I.

BEST ACTOR IN A TV SHOW

  • James Garner, The Rockford Files
  • Stacy Keach, 1980s Mike Hammer
  • George Peppard, Banacek
  • Tony Shalhoub, Monk.
  • David Jannsen, Harry O
  • Darren McGavin, The Outsider
  • Richard Bradford, Man in a Suitcase.
  • David Jannsen, Harry O.
  • George Peppard, Banacek
  • James Garner, The Rockford Files.
  • Craig Stevens, Peter Gunn.
  • James Garner as Rockford
  • Tom Selleck in Magnum.
  • Wayne Rogers in City of Angels or maybe Jeff Goldblum in Tenspeed & Brownshoe.
  • Alfred Burke, Public Eye
  • Richard Bradford, Man In A Suitcase.
  • Michael Madsen in Vengeance Unlimited.
  • Robert Urich Spenser For Hire
  • William Conrad as Cannon.
  • David Janssen as Harry O.
  • Dennis Franz in Beverly Hills Buntz.
  • James Garner in The Rockford Files.
  • James Garner
  • Tom Selleck (Magnum, P.I.)

BEST ACTRESS IN A TV SHOW

  • Stephanie Zimbalist in Remington Steele.
  • Margaret Colin in Legwork
  • Anne Francis in Honey West.
  • The woman who played Velda... Shannon Whirrey, she's cute. Not sure about acting ability...
  • Gail Fisher as Peggy.
  • Margaret Colin Legwork
  • Anne Francis in Honey West transformed her bimbo character into an American Mrs. Peel with solid professional detective chops, and also gets points for being a pioneer.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A TV SHOW

  • Robert Reed in Mannix
  • Richard Jaeckel in Spenser: For Hire
  • Ted Levine in Monk.
  • Anthony Zerbe, Harry O
  • Stuart Margolin, Rockford Files.
  • Anthony Zerbe, Harry O
  • Stuart Margolin, Rockford Files.
  • Rocky in The Rockford Files.
  • Avery Brooks as Hawk, about the only thing good about Spenser for Hire.
  • Ben Vereen in Tenspeed & Brownshoe
  • Stuart Margolin, The Rockford Files
  • Donald Sutherland, Man In A Suitcase.
  • Avery Brooks Spenser For Hire
  • Clifton James as Lieutenant Quint in City of Angels.
  • Joseph Campanella as Lew Wickersham in Mannix.
  • Noah Beery
  • Avery Brooks (Spenser For Hire)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A TV SHOW

  • Gail Fisher as Peggy in Mannix.
  • Whoever played Beth Davenport in Rockford.
  • Barbara Stock Spenser For Hire.
  • Farrah Fawcett in Harry O.
  • Joan Blondell as Peggy Revere in Banyon.
  • Peggy in Mannix.

BEST GUEST APPEARANCE IN A TV SHOW

  • Tom Selleck in The Rockford Files
  • Dana Delany in Magnum, P.I.
  • Elisabeth Rohm in Angel.
  • Tom Selleck as Lance White in Rockford.
  • Reed Diamond as disgraced cop Kellerman turned private eye in Homicide: Life on the Streets. Forget the limpdick spin-offs of CSI and L&O -- this spin-off would have stood up all on its own.
  • Shelley Berman as Danny Holland in the Peter Gunn episode "The Comic."

BEST DIRECTOR IN A TV SHOW

  • Joss Whedon in Angel.
  • Howard Rodman in Harry O.
  • Michael Mann for Private Eye.
  • Charles Crichton, Man In A Suitcase.
  • Whoever directed the Spenser For Hire Series.
  • Blake Edwards for many episodes of Peter Gunn.

BEST ADAPTATION IN A TV SHOW

  • A&E's Nero Wolfe.
  • Poirot.
  • Mike Hammer (the Darren McGavin version).
  • If we're talking about a series, I'd have to say HBO's Philip Marlowe -- Private Eye, since every episode was actually adapted from a Chandler short story, with the A&E Nero Wolfe as a close runner-up. Honorable mention to the first season or so of Stacy Keach's Mike Hammer TV series which, though the episodes were original scripts, still managed to capture the appeal
    of Spillane's character pretty faithfully. Show went downhill after Keach's drug bust and the recent syndicated revival just plain shouldn't have been done. Honorable mention also to The Racing Game which was the main impetus to Dick Francis's deciding to develop Sid Halley into a series character. Francis, after all, didn't write the second Halley novel until AFTER the series proved a hit. Honorable mention also, not because it was that great a show, but for
    making the most successful transition from prose to TV, to 77 Sunset Strip; much more cuccessul as a TV series than in books, how many people think Stu Bailey was created for TV rather than being introduced in the novel The Double Take more than a decade earlier?
    .
    But if we're talking about an individual script from a TV series, then, perhaps "Finger Man" by Jo Eisinger, b/o Raymond Chandler's short story, from Philip Marlowe -- Private Eye.
    (Jim Doherty)
  • The Phillip Marlowe series made for HBO

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY IN A TV SHOW

  • Do you mean best single episode of a TV series? That's really tough! Here are a few that have stuck with me through the years:
    "Deadfall" by Chester Krumholz (from Mannix)
    "The Sound of Darkness" by Barry Trivers (from Mannix)
    "Did You See the Sunrise" by Donald P. Bellisario (from Magnum P.I.)
    "Black Mirror" by David Chase (from The Rockford Files)
    (Jim Doherty)

BEST MADE-FOR-TV P.I. FILM OR MINI-SERIES

  • One Shoe Makes It Murder, starring Robert Mitchum.
  • Die Kinder.
  • Black Tie. This quirky, obscure mini-series starred West Wing's Josh as a vinyl LP-addicted P.I. They never even aired the final episodes. A perfect candidate for DVD release.
  • The Dain Curse.
  • The Singing Detective - forget the Reader's Digest version with Robert Downey Jr. The original is the one to see.
  • The Dain Curse.
  • I want to say Chiefs but that wasn't a PI thing.
  • Definitely The Singing Detective.
  • Cast a Deadly Spell
  • The Dain Curse.

BEST ACTOR IN A MADE-FOR-TV P.I. FILM OR MINI-SERIES

  • James Coburn as "Hamilton Nash" in The Dain Curse.
  • James Coburn in The Dain Curse.
  • Frederic Forrest as Lomax in Die Kinder.
  • Michael Gambon as Marlow in The Singing Detective. Am I right, or am I right?
  • Michael Gambon. You're right.
  • Fred Ward as H.P. Lovecraft in Cast a Deadly Spell
  • Stacy Keach as Mike Hammer in Murder Me Murder You.
  • Powers Boothe as Phillip MarloweT

BEST ACTRESS IN A MADE-FOR-TV P.I. FILM OR MINI-SERIES

  • Angie Dickinson, One Shoes Makes it Murder.
  • Elizabeth Montgomery as the P.I. in Missing Pieces.
  • From a VERY limited field, I'd have to say Crystal Bernard as Rex Stout's Dol Bonner in Lady Against the Odds.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MADE-FOR-TV P.I. FILM OR MINI-SERIES

  • Howard Da Silva in Smile Jenny, You're Dead.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MADE-FOR-TV P.I. FILM OR MINI-SERIES

  • Pearl Bailey as "Mother" in the '80's one-shot revival of Peter Gunn.
    (Jim Doherty)
    Good choice! I'd forgotten that one. And Peter Straub was pretty cool as Gunn, too.

BEST DIRECTOR IN A MADE-FOR-TV P.I. FILM OR MINI-SERIES

  • Jay Tarses for Black Tie Affair.
  • E.W. Swackheimer for The Dain Curse.

BEST ADAPTATION IN A MADE-FOR-TV P.I. FILM OR MINI-SERIES

  • Robert W. Lenski's script for The Dain Curse.
  • The Phillip Marlowe series on HBO

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY IN A MADE-FOR-TV P.I. FILM OR
MINI-SERIES

  • If an original teleplay using a CHARACTER created for another medium counts, then Bill Stratton's script for Murder Me, Murder You.. If the script has to be WHOLLY
    original, then the pilot for The Rockford Files written by Stephen J. Cannell and Roy Huggins.
    (Jim Doherty)

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER -- AND WHY?
(Over a career)

  • Bogart because he established the essence of the PI on the screen.
  • Bogart, same reason.
  • Dick Powell. For Murder My Sweet, You Never Can Tell, starring as radio's Richard Diamond and producing it for television, but graciously stepping aside and letting David Jansen take over as Diamond. A class act.
  • Blake Edwards -- for creating Richard Diamond and Peter Gunn.
  • Darren McGavin (Mike Hammer, The Outsider) and David Jannsen (Richard Diamond, Harry O), made lasting impressions in all of their roles.
  • Elisha Cook. For everything from The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep to Magnum, P.I.
  • Stephen J. Cannell and Roy Huggins -- between them they gave us 77 Sunset Strip, Rockford, City of Angels, Tenspeed and Brownshoe, The Fugitive, The Outsider, and on and on.
  • It would have to be Bogie.
  • James Garner.
  • Too many to choose from.
  • Robert Mitchum for Out of the Past, Farewell, My Lovely, One Shoe Makes It Murder and even the horrid remake of The Big Sleep.
  • Dick Powell. I know it's tempting to say Bogart, but by the time he played Spade, and certainly by the time he played Marlowe, Bogart was already associated with tough guy roles, and Spade and Marlowe were the only characters he ever played. Powell, on the other hand, completely changed his career around with his portrayal of Marlowe in Murder, My Sweet, still the best Marlowe on film. He went on to play the character on radio and TV, the only actor to play Marlowe in three different mediums. He also played Richard Diamond on radio, produced Richard Diamond for TV (and personally chose David Janssen for to take over the part on TV), and also played Richard Rogue on radio's Rogue's Gallery, and Johnny Dollar in the pilot for Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar. So identified did he become with hard-boiled PI roles, that he was even able to spoof his own tough guy image in a neat little fantasy/comedy/crime movie called You Never Can Tell in which he played a murdered German Shepherd reincarnated as a Marlowe-like PI named "Rex King."
    (Jim Doherty)
  • Stephen J. Cannell

BEST THEME

  • Henry Mancini, Peter Gunn
  • Lalo Schifrin, Mannix
  • Mike Post, Rockford Files and Magnum, P.I.
  • Earle Hagen, 80s Mike Hammer
  • Steve Dorff, Spenser: For Hire.
  • Henry Mancini, Peter Gunn
  • The theme from Man in a Suitcase.
  • The Theme from Shaft. (the original film version).
  • Henry Mancini, Peter Gunn
  • Issac Hayes, SHAFT.
  • 77 Sunset Strip (snap snap).
  • SHAFT!!!
  • Isaac Hayes, Shaft.
  • Mike Post's The Rockford Files
  • Ron Grainer's Man In A Suitcase (even though it was also used for the godawful TFI Friday).
  • Shaft
  • Spenser For Hire
  • Henry Mancini's "The Peter Gunn Theme"
  • Rockford Files
  • The Staccato Theme -- now if only the show itself wasn't so hokey.
  • The Rockford Files

COOLEST CAR

  • Rockford's Firebird.
  • Magnum's Ferrari.
  • Either Spenser's Mustang or Dan Tanna's T-Bird. Of course, they're both ridiculous choices for a real private eye, since they're distinctive, collector's items, but man, are those cool cars or what?
  • Magnum's.
  • Magnum had the coolest car, although no PI in his right mind would use it.
  • The Stutz Bearcat in Bearcats! Man, those were different times...
  • McGill's Hillman Imp in Man In A Suitcase - okay, so it wasn't a Ferrari, but it was a
    nicely battered old P.I. vehicle.
  • Spenser's Mustang.
  • Kookie's car in 77 Sunset Strip.
  • Harry O's car, which was so uncool it was cool.
  • Tom Magnum's (actually Robin Masters's) Ferrari.
  • Magnum's Ferrari.

FURTHER COMMENTS

  • Nobody asked this time, but the all-time worst adaptation of a decent novel was Lady in the Lake.
    (Jack Bludis)
    Actually, the worst is yet to come. A future poll (the next one? EYES WRONG?) will deal with the worst of everything.
  • Best Geek in a PI Series: Thom Bray as Boz on Rip Tide. (OK, he's a bud, but I had to give him a mention.)
    (Jim Winter)
    .
  • This is fun, but I can hardly wait until next time, when we can rip some new assholes. Dellaventura? 8MM? Michael Richards? Blood will be spilled...
    (A fan from Arizona)
    .
  • It's always fun to do these polls, but the repetition of answers from previous polls of this type is more than a little worrying. Have there honestly been no good P.I. movies
    or television programmes since the late seventies / early eighties? Or are we all just nostalgic? I think it's "a little from column A, a little from column B", but still...
    (Ray Banks)
    I think a lot of it is nostalgia, which confers more merit on the past than it always deserves, but the industry and tastes have changed, as well. There are few fewer P.I. shows and films than before, and many of them seem far too self-conscious. But stuff like Memento and Vengeance Unlimited show there's potential in the genre yet...
    .
  • With all due deference to Jack Bludis, whose opinion I DO respect, the 1973 version of The Long Goodbye makes The Lady in the Lake look like Citizen Kane.
    (Jim Doherty)
    .
  • "With all due deference to Jim Doherty, whose opinion I DO respect, if we're talking faithfulness of adaptation, you're right. But if we're talking watchability, The Long Goodbye, no matter how many liberties it takes and how much deconstruction and reconstruction went on, is still by far the superior and more entertaining film, and Elliot Gould (doing a sort of Tom Waits spin) is still a far better Marlowe than Montgomery's awkward, smirking pasty doughboy. As radical a retooling of Chandler as Goodbye is, it's still spiritually purer to the source material."
    (Kevin Burton Smith)
    .
  • "Glad to see Twilight got at least one vote so far. So give it mine too. The best actor should be Robert Mitchum, who was potentially the best Philip Marlowe that never played the role until he was too old to even move gracefully--see Farewell, My Lovely. In lieu of voting for Mitchum for roles he never played, I vote him in for Out of the Past. Failing Mitchum, then Paul Newman in Harper, or Twilight, and HB in The Maltese Falcon."
    .
  • "Elliot Gould was the most entertaining Marlowe, Bogart nailed Sam Spade perfectly (and made a more convincing Spade than Marlowe), but for pure brutality, no one touches Ralph Meeker's Mike Hammer in Kiss Me Deadly."
    (Dave Zeltserman)


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