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1980 Movie Reviews – The Private Eyes

by Sean P. Aune | April 18, 2020April 18, 2020 10:30 am EDT

Welcome to an exciting year-long project here at The Nerdy. 1980 was an exciting year for films giving us a lot of films that would go on to be beloved favorites and cult classics. It was also the start to a major shift in cultural and societal norms, and some of those still reverberate to this day.

We’re going to pick and choose which movies we hit, but right now the list stands at nearly three dozen.

Yes, we’re insane, but 1980 was that great of a year for film.

The articles will come out – in most cases – on the same day the films hit theaters in 1980 so that it is their true 40th anniversaries. All films are also watched again for the purposes of these reviews and are not being done from memory. In some cases, it truly will be the first time we’ve seen them.

This time around it’s April 17, 1980, and we’re off to see The Privat Eyes!

Quick side note: Since we launched this series this year, we’ve discovered that Vintage Video Podcast is doing the exact same project with two differences: First, it’s audio (naturally), and second, they are doing every major film. We’ve listened to a couple of episodes and it’s fun checking off their thoughts against my own. Check them out over at Vintage Video Podcast.

1980 Movie Project - The Private Eyes - 01

The Private Eyes

Imagine if you made a move in the vein of a Scooby-Doo mystery, but then decided you didn’t need to include Scooby-Doo.

The Private Eyes is a comedy-mystery starring Tim Conway and Don Knotts and would mark their finale on-screen pairing (minus a cameo in The Cannonball Run II). The film was co-written by Conway and John Myhers and directed by Lang Elliott.

The movie follows Inspector Winship (Knotts) and Dr. Tart (Conway) being summoned to solve the murder of Lord and Lady Morley at their country estate. Throughout the story that is a hooded character that is apparently killing all of the house staff while Winship and Tart just stumble through trying to solve the crimes.

And yes, the hooded figure leads to a big Scooby-Doo style reveal towards the end of the film which just really solidified what I was already feeling about the film.

To be honest, the film is harmless and mildly amusing, but it’s 90% just Knotts and Conway playing to their greatest hits. The deliveries, the facial expressions, and everything else, you’ve seen from these two before. If you enjoyed their other films, you’ll enjoy this one as well.

With this film and Little Miss Marker, it’s clear that throughout the early part of 1980 we were clearing out some of the 1970s style comedies with more of a slapstick bent to them. Knowing some of what is coming up (Used Cars, Airplane!, Caddyshack, etc), it’s clear that comedy undergoes a massive tonal shift as the decade really gets going.

1980 Movie Reviews will return on May 9 with Friday the 13th!


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Sean P. Aune

Sean Aune has been a pop culture aficionado since before there was even a term for pop culture. From the time his father brought home Amazing