Taglines: An Undercover Nightmare.
Undercover cop Nick Dunbar’s (Arliss Howard) brother Matt (Loren Dean) is accused of killing his teacher, Mr. Bradwood (Mack Harrell) at Adlai Stevenson High School. Nick loses his temper with Hechtor (Larry Pine), the detective in charge, and gets suspended. Nick’s partner Ed (Seymour Cassel) pretends to be Nick’s dad to enroll him as a student.
Matt gives Nick pointers to get people to talk to him. Nick deals with bullies, girls with crushes on him, teachers & staff who range from quirky to bizarre, and a teacher, Robin Torrence (Suzy Amis), to whom he is attracted who thinks he’s a teen. The turning point in his popularity (and therefore his ability to get information) happens in the classroom metaphor scene, in which E.E. Cummings’ poem she being brand new, is used in its entirety. The character Renard (Michael Huguenor), who had a large part in the script but was mostly edited out of the film, makes his only appearance in this scene.
Along the way, Nick and Ed narrow the probable motives down to jealousy (Bradwood was trading grades for sex with Dawn-Marie Zeffer (Alexandra Powers), the girlfriend of Kyle Kerns (Peter Dobson), the leader of the bullies) or self-preservation (Bradwood was blackmailing some staff about running a real estate scam on the other teachers). Nick’s identity is discovered by Jane Melway (Diane Ladd), one of the con artist’s gang, and it all comes to a head at the Pagan May Fest (the school’s mascots are the Pagans).
Nick and Ed find out that they are probably on the wrong track – Chet Butler (George Wendt), one of the gang’s members is missing and an emotional confession from Melway points to Butler as the murderer – not to stop the blackmail, but because Bradwood was engaged to Melway, with whom Butler used to have an affair and whom he still loves. Bradwood also found the love letters in which Butler claims to have killed Melway’s husband.
Plain Clothes is a 1988 comedy film directed by Martha Coolidge and starring Arliss Howard, Suzy Amis, George Wendt, Diane Ladd, Seymour Cassel, Larry Pine, Jackie Gayle, Abe Vigoda, Alexandra Powers, Peter Dobson and Phoebe Augustine. It was released by Paramount Pictures.
Plain Clothes (1988)
Directed by: Martha Coolidge
Starring: Arliss Howard, Suzy Amis, George Wendt, Diane Ladd, Seymour Cassel, Larry Pine, Jackie Gayle, Abe Vigoda, Alexandra Powers, Peter Dobson, Phoebe Augustine
Screenplay by: Scott Frank
Production Design by: Michel Levesque
Cinematography by: Daniel Hainey
Film Editing by: Edward M. Abroms, Patrick Kennedy
Costume Design by: Tracy Tynan
Set Decoration by: Marya Delia Javier
Art Direction by: William Apperson
Music by: Scott Wilk
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: April 15, 1988