Part spoof and part "straight," Gumshoe comes off as an affectionate tribute to the hard-boiled detective films of yore. Albert Finney stars as Eddie Ginley, a Liverpool bingo-caller and erstwhile comedian who has been weaned on the novels of Raymond Chandler and Dashiel Hammett. Fancying himself an ace detective, Ginley quits his job to form his own agency. Before long, he is involved in a complex mystery with decided echoes of The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep, replete with femme fatale (Janice Rule) and sinister fat man (George Silver). Armed with little more than a slick line of patter, Ginley plunges into this baffling case, while his level-headed brother (Frank Finlay) and sister-in-law (Billie Whitelaw) try to talk him out of it. Despite its satirical content, Gumshoe turns out to be a fascinating mystery yarn on its own terms. Albert Finney also produced the film, while none other than Andrew Lloyd Webber supplied the musical score.
by Hal Erickson synopsis