Eddie Ginley is a 31-year-old dreaming bingo caller from Liverpool, keen to change career paths. On his birthday he advertises himself as a Private Eye, when he is sent a mysterious package, he becomes involved in a very large investigation indeed.
The debut from British director Stephen Frears sees a trench-coated Liverpool bingo caller (Albert Finney) finding his Bogart fantasies coming true when sets himself up as a quick-talking private detective, as a typical kitchen sink drama segues into labyrinthine noir thriller. In his subsequent career, Frears has been torn between British realism (My Beautiful Laundrette) and American genre (The Grifters); here, both forms are intriguingly scrambled. There are strangely effective performances from the likes of Billie Whitelaw, Fulton Mackay, Janice Rule and Maureen Lipman, and the pastiche score is one of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's better credits.
Perhaps because of its persistent film in-jokes, this much sharper than many of Frears' later works