Paul Newman plays a gum smacking, hip L.A. private eye who has it all together but money to pay the bills and soon to be single. Lew Harper falls on bad times, he’s so broke he is recycling his coffee grounds. Albert Graves, a friend and attorney (Arthur Hill) talks him into taking on a missing person case. An oil baron has turned up missing and it should be an open and shut case. However this simple job spirals into a complicated mess of several suspects and dirty secrets. Lew starts investigating the life of the victim, his first stop is with the crippled, bitter, harpy of a wife played by Lauren Bacall. From here Harper uncovers a photo of the actress Fay Estabrook (Shelly Winters) who has become a raging alcoholic. Feeding her more drinks until she passes out, Harper ends up taking her home to her place where he snoops about looking for more clues. This leads him to a singer, Betty Farley (Julie Harris) who has a heroin addiction. One of many complicated connections to the victim. Of course Harper’s snooping has not gone un-noticed. This is where our detective gets the daylights beat out of him by two very large well-meaning thugs. Seeking a shoulder and some sympathy Harper gets together with his soon to be ex-wife played by Janet Leigh. He gets his second wind setting him up to face the femme fatale, the sexy teenager step-daughter (Pamela Tiffin) who is just wacko.
I don’t want to give too much away. So I will cut off here. This Who-Dun-It directed by Jack Smight is just the thing for you armchair Gum Shoes. Its tough and sexy as only Paul Newman can bring to the screen. The cast is awesome. Good action, as well as story line. This is a great film for any age. Man, I do love the 60’s. Watch Harper and let me know if you saw that ending coming. I sure didn’t.