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Louis de Funès,
Television writer and director Elliott Nash and his wife Nell have a happy marriage. One day a blackmailer informs Elliott that he has nude photos of his wife Nell, taken when she was only 18 years old. The blackmailer, a certain Dan Shelby, threatens to ruin Nell's reputation and her Broadway stage career if Elliott refuses to pay a ransom. Elliott agrees to pay the blackmailer but the demands increase and Elliott becomes a nervous wreck and a workaholic in his attempt to earn more money for the blackmailer. Elliott even considers selling his house in order to raise the 25 thousand dollars the blackmailer demands. Nell is unaware of the blackmail scheme and often worries about Elliott's state of mind. In desperation, Elliott decides to lure the blackmailer to Elliott's home for a large final payment and kill him. But Elliott is no killer and his planning for the imminent premeditated murder is amateurish at best. Written by
Film debut of Peter Ford, son of Glenn Ford, and his former wife, dancer-actress Eleanor Powell. See more »
Elliot Nash haphazardly buries the attaché case with Dan
Shelby, but when The Duke and Louis the Louse dig up Shelby a few days later, Dan is holding the attaché very tight in his left hand. See more »
As of this writing, Glenn Ford is still with us, living in retirement. He has never, except from his fans and fellow actors, received the recognition his honest acting abilities in drama or comedy have fully deserved. His performances in "Experiment In Terror" and "The Blackboard Jungle" and "3:10 To Yuma" fully show his firm handling of dramatic material. He was a superb psychotic villain in "The Man From Colorado". He held his own with Rita Hayworth and George Macready in "Gilda". And for comic gems let me suggest "The Rounders" (holding his own with Henry 0Fonda, Chill Wills, and his old film friend Edgar Buchanan), "Teahouse Of The August Moon", and this film.
For some reason the New York Times film critics always slam "The Gazebo". I can't tell why. It may be because those comedies traipsing on dark matters like murder seem to need an element of elegance (in some quarters) to be rated highly. But how many "Kind Hearts And Coronets" or "Monsieur Verdoux" films can there be? THE GAZEBO is certainly bereft of elegant villains like Dennis Price and Charlie Chaplin, but it does draw us into the hero's real problems.
Elliot Nash (Ford) is a hard-working producer, whose wife Nell (Debbie Reynolds) is an equally hard worker performer. Nash has been receiving blackmail threats from a man he has never met. The man is demanding an impossibly large sum of money for pictures he has of Nell that might hurt her career. Nash is forced, in his bumbling way, to consider the only alternative (short of a miracle) to take care of the blackmailer: he must kill him. So on a night that Nell is away from their suburban home, Nash (following a step-by-step plan he even wrote down and put into his desk's top draw) arranges to shoot and kill the blackmailer and to bury the body. He had originally intended to simply bury it in the back yard, but Nell has accidentally helped him here - it seems (for his birthday gift) she is installing an antique gazebo in the backyard, under the watchful workmanship of John McGiver. Ford drags the dead body (in an old bath curtain) into the backyard, and puts it into the foundation of the gazebo.
The problems arise afterward. First, it turns out the police want to question him anyway regarding the blackmailer - it seems they found his body in his office, shot to death. They don't suspect Nash for this, but they are curious about why the blackmailer called him. Of course this leads to the issue - who is in the gazebo. Ford goes nuts trying to figure out who among his family and friends is missing. Secondly, it also brings up another matter. Elliot and Nell have a close friend, Harlowe (Carl Reiner), whom Elliot has always found a little annoying as Harlowe once was dating Nell. Now he's around prying into the relationship of Elliot and the dead blackmailer.
Soon some others pop up, two goons (the leader is Martin Landau) wondering what happened to Dan - whom they knew was supposed to be visiting Elliot. Can he be the man in the gazebo? Is he the key to all this?
The action of the jittery Ford is priceless, particularly in the scene where he shoots the visitor. An example: Nash has been thinking of doing some work with Alfred Hitchcock. Hitch calls (we never see or hear him) while Nash is wondering how to bury the dead man. Ford asks Hitch advise "for a plot he's working on" and Hitch helps out.
The final ten minutes, when Ford is almost ready to throw himself on the mercy of the detectives (Reiner and Bert Freed, as a Lieutenant who literally louses up his own case), only to change strategies in a moment of clarity, are hysterical. I particularly hope you fully appreciate Freed's tag-line at the conclusion of the film.
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