Created by Shane Black
“You don’t get it, do you? This isn’t good cop, bad cop. This is fag and New Yorker.”
— Perry sums up the premise for Harry
In Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Shane Black’s entertaining 2005 comedy thriller, HARRY LOCKHART (a pre-Iron Man Robert Downey Jr., on his fourteenth or so “comeback”), is a hapless petty thief from New York City who’s mistaken for an actor by a Hollywood producer casting a detective movie. Before you can say A Thrill a Minute With Jack Albany, the producer ships him off to Los Angeles for a screen test to play a hard-boiled private detective in an upcoming production.
Harry gets teamed up with the film’s technical adviser, real-life hard-boiled private eye PERRY van SHRIKE, aka “GAY PERRY” (Val Kilmer), to prep him for his screen test.
Perry is the real deal, though–a genuinely hard-boiled dick, cynical and bitter and — oh yeah –gay. He wants nothing to do with Harry, who he’s convinced isn’t the brightest crayon in the box. But Perry gets roped in when Harmony Faith Lane (Michelle Monaghan), an actress who’s read way too many pulp detective novels featuring Jonny Gossamer, a fictitious hard-boiled private eye, asks Harry to look into her sister’s suicide.
From this point on, hilarity and thrills ensue, with the mismatched pair swapping wisecracks like an over-caffeinated Nick and Nora.
Shane Black, of course, is no stranger to that particular combo and hilarity and thrills, or mismatched detectives, having scripted such popular action comedies as The Last Boy Scout, Lethal Weapon and The Long Kiss Goodnight. But he pulled out all the stops with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, his directorial debut, even going so far as having Harry break the fourth wall with asides to the audience. He says the script was partially based on the Mike Shayne novel Bodies Are Where You Find Them by Brett Halliday. Furthermore, he says he read several stories by Raymond Chandler when writing it, which resulted in the story being divided into chapters, each bearing a title lifted from Chandler’s works. An added bonus is the way Black cheerfully inverts every cliche in the crime flick playbook, including a few he himself had been perpetrating for over the years.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Black, hot off scripting Lethal Weapon, reportedly received an unprecedented (for the time) $1,750,000 for the screenplay of The Last Boy Scout, and a few years later a whopping, record-breaking $4,000,000 for The Long Kiss Goodnight. Some of us are obviously in the wrong racket. Since Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, has written and directed several, including Iron Man 3 (2013), The Nice Guys (2016) and The Predator (2018). You may have heard of them.
- “It’s hard to believe it was just last Christmas that Harmony and I changed the world.And we didn’t mean to and it didn’t last long. You know a thing like that can’t.”
— Harry looks back.
- Perry: You’re an idiot. You know that. You know if you looked in the dictionary next to the word “idiot” you know what you’ll find?
Harry: A picture of me?
Perry: No! The definition of the word “idiot”. Which you are.
- Harry (to audience): Don’t worry, I saw Lord of the Rings. I’m not going to end this 17 times.
- Harry (to audience): “Yeah, it’s a dumb movie thing, but what do you want me to do?”
- KISS KISS BANG BANG | Buy on DVD | Buy on Blu-Ray | Watch it now!
Working title: “You’ll Never Die in This Town Again”
(2005, Warner Bros.)
Written and directed by Shane Black
Based (in part) on “Bodies Are Where You Find Them” by Brett Halliday
Original Music by John Ottman
Cinematography by Michael Barrett
Co-produced by Carrie Morrow
Produced by Joel Silver
Starring Robert Downey Jr. as Harry Lockhart
and Val Kilmer as GAY PERRY
Also starring Michelle Monaghan, Corbin Bernsen, Dash Mihok, Larry Miller, Rockmond Dunbar, Shannyn Sossamon, Angela Lindvall, Indio Falconer Downey, Ariel Winter, Duane Carnahan, Josh Richman, Martha Hackett, Nancy Fish
- The Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid Cheatsheet
Films used in the making of the film.
- So It’s Come to This
The Film Geeks’ Top Ten P.I. Films. James and Gustavo have spoken.
- Face-Off: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Vs. The Nice Guys
Matt Rooney compares Black’s two most recent P.I. flicks.