The Private Eyes, starring Tim Conway and Don Knotts

The Private Eyes (1980), co-starring Tim Conway and Don Knotts

The Private Eyes, starring Don Knotts and Tim ConwayBuy from Amazon.com Don Knotts and Tim Conway co-star in “The Private Eyes,” a silly little comedy where they spoof the murder mystery in general, and Sherlock Holmes in particular.  Called from Scotland Yard, Inspector Winthrop (played by Don Knotts), and his bumbling assistant Dr. Tart (played with mindless abandon by Tim Conway) to solve the murder of Lord Morely, the plot begins to resemble “Ten Little Indians” as people are killed off, one by one, with a not-quite-rhyming note left behind by the murderer.  It’s not one of the classic comedies of the 20th Century, but it’s certainly an enjoyable 90 minutes.  Gene Siskel described it as “A Perfect Saturday Matinee,” and I tend to agree with him.  For a different opinion, check out the editorial review from Amazon.com below.

Editorial review of “The Private Eyes” co-starring Don Knotts and Tim Conway, courtesy of Amazon.com

Don Knotts and Tim Conway star in The Private Eyes, a 1980 comedy about two bumbling detectives solving a murder. It’s an impressively incompetent affair. Every ancient joke falls with a muffled thud as Knotts and Conway ham their way through the pointless story: The lord and lady of a capacious manor are killed, and the lord’s ghost seems to have returned to knock off the staff one by one. There’s an austere housekeeper, a snooty butler with compulsive twitches, a sexy upstairs maid, a deformed groomsman, and a buxom young heir to the estate, who of course is going to be in some state of undress before the movie is over. People get killed, their bodies disappear, Knotts and Conway wander aimlessly through secret passageways, dimly seeking some way out of this movie. Conway cowrote the script, so he gets most of the blame; Knotts was probably just happy to have the work. –Bret Fetzer

Funny Quotes from The Private Eyes (1981), co-starring Don Knotts and Tim Conway

Dr. Tart (Tim Conway): [Reading a note next to the dead Hilda]Hilda is dead, and here’s something to note. You can’t bury her at sea, ‘cause her bosoms will float.


Justin: This is Inspector Winship and Dr. Tart. They were in the yard.
Inspector Winshop (Don Knotts): That’s FROM the Yard.


Mr. Uwatsum: You want a hummingbird cookie?
Dr. Tart (Tim Conway): No thank you.
Mr. Uwatsum: How about a bowl of fish eyes?
Dr. Tart (Tim Conway): Uh… no.


Inspector Winshop (Don Knotts): For a short person, you have long sentences.


Dr. Tart (Tim Conway): You want another glass of pus?
Inspector Winshop (Don Knotts): No I don’t want another glass of pus!


Inspector Winshop (Don Knotts): You know, I have an idea. Whoever wrote that letter must have read about us in the newspaper.
Dr. Tart (Tim Conway): What is it?
Inspector Winshop (Don Knotts): What’s what?
Dr. Tart (Tim Conway): The idea you have?
Inspector Winshop (Don Knotts): I just told you!
Dr. Tart (Tim Conway): What was it?
Inspector Winshop (Don Knotts): Whoever wrote that letter must have read about us in the newspaper.
Dr. Tart (Tim Conway): Right! Now that letter was signed ‘Lord Morley’. So he must have read about us in the newspaper and called us in to solve his murder.
Inspector Winshop (Don Knotts): How could Lord Morley write us after he was already dead?
Dr. Tart (Tim Conway): Right! You know what? Maybe whoever killed Lord Morley wrote that letter.
Inspector Winshop (Don Knotts): If you killed Lord Morley would you write to someone and ask them to find the killer?
Dr. Tart (Tim Conway): Are you saying I killed Lord Morley?
Inspector Winshop (Don Knotts): [aggravated] No! I’m saying you kill me!


Dr. Tart (Tim Conway): [reading the note from Jock’s killer] If Jock could talk, he’d give you a clue. But now that he’s dead, what can you do? He deserved what he got, I don’t regret it a bit. By the way, you’re standing in bull ca-ca.


Dr. Tart (Tim Conway): [reading the note from the killer] I said when I died, that I’d come back. If you believe in ghosts, you’re on the right track. I’m out of the grave, and roaming the moors. If you want to be safe, you better lock all the windows and screens.


Doll voice: Listen up dummies. The help is all gone, the house is bare. Now you know, a shadow is there. There’s one left to die, then my job’ll be done. I like killing people, it’s a lotta kicks!


Dr. Tart (Tim Conway): [reading the note from Uwatsum’s killer] In this house, it’s hard to survive. Some’ll be dead, who are now alive. Mr. Uwatsum is gone, ‘cause he knew too much. Bye for now, but rest assured we’ll keep in constant contact with each other.


Dr. Tart (Tim Conway): [reading the tombstone engraved by Tibet’s killer] To dig your own grave, is quite a sight. But to bury yourself, is not very bright. There are more to kill, and the job’ll be done. Now there are five, soon there’ll be a lot less.


Dr. Tart (Tim Conway): [reading the note from Lord Morley] Now you will see, I can do something right. I’m going to show you, a killer tonight. I want Phyllis to come to my chamber, and see. Who was the one, who murdered Lady Morley and myself.

Originally published at Clown Ministry