The Linguini Incident

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The Linguini Incident
The Linguini Incident.jpg
Directed by Richard Shepard
Written byTamar Brott
Richard Shepard
Produced bySarah Jackson
Arnold Orgolini
Starring Rosanna Arquette
David Bowie
Eszter Balint
Marlee Matlin
Buck Henry
Viveca Lindfors
Cinematography Robert Yeoman
Edited bySonya Polonsky
Music by Thomas Newman
Distributed byAcademy Entertainment
Release dates
  • October 30, 1991 (1991-10-30)(France)

  • May 1, 1992 (1992-05-01)(USA)
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Linguini Incident (also released on home video as Houdini and Company, The Robbery, Shag-O-Rama) is a 1991 American cult crime comedy film set in New York starring David Bowie and Rosanna Arquette. The film was directed by Richard Shepard, who co-wrote the script with Tamar Brott. The name refers to linguini, a type of pasta.



A British bartender, Monte (David Bowie), wishes to marry a waitress at the restaurant he works, ostensibly so he can get his green card. Waitress and aspiring escape artist, Lucy (Rosanna Arquette), and hopeful lingerie designer Vivian (Marlee Matlin), wish to rob Monte's and Lucy's employer in order to fund their ambitions. Monte agrees to help the duo rob the restaurant so long as Lucy marries him. While the robbery does not go precisely according to plan, the trio are successful. However, Lucy accidentally leaves Monte at the altar, causing him to lose a two million dollar bet with the restaurant owners that he could marry a waitress in a week. In a double or nothing scenario, Monte wagers Lucy's skills as an escape artist. He tricks the women into playing along, claiming that the bosses found out about the robbery. The women appear to forgive him for lying about the circumstances of the escape performance. The two women rob the restaurant a second time. The relationship of the women and Monte remains ambiguous in the end.


Iman and Julian Lennon have brief cameos in the movie. [1]

Production and release

The movie was shot in late 1990, after Bowie had completed his Sound+Vision Tour. [2] It was co-funded by Bowie's own production company, Isolar. [2] The film was released in America on the weekend of the Rodney King Riot. In Los Angeles, where the LA TIMES had called the film "an off the wall treat" there was a curfew so box office was obviously disappointing despite the fact that The NY Times called the film a "cheerfully bizarre comedy". It was released on VHS in 1992, and again in January 2000 on DVD with the name Shag-O-Rama, The Robbery', and "Houdini and Company." [2]

Critical response

While reviews were mixed, many critics praised the film for its humor and avant-garde surrealism. Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote that the film "trumpets its eccentricity with its title and casting, as well as in every other way it can". [3] Similarly, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer, Kevin Thomas, called the film "a rarity, a contemporary screwball comedy that actually works". [4] Contrastly, Empire magazine gave the movie 1 star out of 5, calling it "an unbearably protracted dud", [5] while TV Guide gave the movie 2 stars out of 5. [6] Variety magazine called the movie an "uninspired, poverty row production" and lamented the miscasting of Bowie in the lead role. [1] Bowie biographer Nicholas Pegg called the movie "harmless but negligible", with a "misconceived script and turgid direction." [2]

Since its initial release, the film has garnered a cult following of fans who've come to appreciate its bizarre humor, surreal tone, and relative obscurity. On October 4, 2022, Collider called it "a hidden gem in Bowie's filmography" and "the best kind of cinematic comfort food". [7] In March of 2020, film reviewer Virginie Pronovost wrote "it keeps you entertained from the beginning until the end with its humour, its peripeties and the overall aura of excitement". [8] Affirming fan appreciation for the film's obscurity, one 2013 review from Mutant Reviewers says "here on my Island of Misfit Movies, The Linguini Incident lives on in a special place of honor". [9]

See also


  1. 1 2 Cohn, Lawrence (May 4, 1992). "Review: The Linguini Incident". Variety . Los Angeles, California: Penske Media Corporation . Retrieved February 20, 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Pegg 2016, p. 676.
  3. Maslin, Janet (May 1, 1992). "Movies: The Linguini Incident". The New York Times . New York City. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
  4. Thomas, Kevin (May 1, 1992). "MOVIE REVIEW : 'Linguini' a Modern Screwball Comedy". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 20, 2022.
  5. "Reviews: The Linguini Incident". London, England: Bauer Media Group. 1 January 2000. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  6. "The Linguini Incident (Review)". TV Guide . New York City: CBS Corporation . Retrieved February 20, 2015.
  7. Boccella, Maggie (Oct 4, 2022). "Why David Bowie's Zaniest, Most Underrated Film Role Is 'The Linguini Incident'". Collider. Retrieved October 20, 2022.
  8. Pronovost, Virginie (Mar 11, 2020). "David Bowie on Screen: The Linguini Incident (Richard Shepard, 1991)". The Wonderful World of Cinema. Retrieved October 20, 2022.
  9. "The Linguini Incident (1991)". Mutant Reviewers. Jun 17, 2013. Retrieved October 20, 2022.

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