There's lots of throwback fun to be had from "Kill Me, Deadly," a lovingly mounted and performed film noir spoof that evokes "The Big Sleep" by way of "The Naked Gun" and "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid."
It's Hollywood, 1947, and hard-boiled, tough-talking gumshoe Charlie Nickels (Dean Lemont) finds himself on the trail of a dead body —that of Lady Clairmont (Lesley-Anne Down, gone too soon), the wealthy owner of the priceless, cursed, now-missing Bengal Diamond. Corpses mount as Charlie, with an able assist from his 10-steps-ahead assistant, Ida (Lynn Odell), amusingly tangles with a string of dubious dames, coppers, goons and even one wild-eyed Bugsy Siegel (Joe Mantegna).
And what would a 1940s-style mystery be without a femme fatale? Meet Mona Livingston (Kirsten Vangsness of TV's "Criminal Minds"), a voluptuous lounge singer who turns Nickels' head while providing perhaps one too many murder clues. Vangsness, with her telltale eyes and smoky-jokey voice (think Blanche DuBois meets Blanche Devereaux), is a hoot.
Director Darrett Sanders, working off Bill Robens' homage/parody-jammed adaptation of his 2009 stage play, keeps the silliness mostly on track. The deft black-and-white photography, clever editing and strong production, costume and art design deserve shout-outs as well.
'Kill Me, Deadly'
Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes