During the Cold War, John Goldfarb (Richard Crenna) crashes his spy plane in the Middle East and is taken prisoner by the local government. His captor, King Fawz (Peter Ustinov), soon ...
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During the Cold War, John Goldfarb (Richard Crenna) crashes his spy plane in the Middle East and is taken prisoner by the local government. His captor, King Fawz (Peter Ustinov), soon discovers that Goldfarb used to be a college football star. So he issues him an ultimatum: coach his country's football team, or Fawz will surrender him to the Russians. Goldfarb teams up with undercover reporter Jenny Ericson (Shirley MacLaine), and together they plot to escape their dangerous situation.
Four versions of the title song (sung under the credits) were recorded. One was by Jaye P. Morgan, the other three by Shirley MacLaine. The Morgan version was heard by the film's critics at the original press screenings. One of the MacLaine versions was used in the film when it was released, and ever afterward. The two unused MacLaine versions had different lyrics. One was more "romantic," the other was sung to Goldfarb by his "Jewish mother." All four versions are included on the CD soundtrack. See more »
When Shirley first presents herself to the king she is fearful he will "make his move.on her" so she dresses herself to be as undesirable as possible and throws herself on his bed. The next three shots have her legs crossed right over left, then left over right, them back to right over left in quick succession. See more »
Low-grade Humor and Subtle Satire; a Sexy Romp That's Hard To Forget
Two sorts of minds watch "John Goldfarb"--"realists" who regard the movie as a satirical send-up of U.S. public-interest postmodernists, and "surrealists" who regard the surrealized Establishment in the U.S. as realistic and miss the movie's point. Since I am the leader of the first group, I regard "Goldfarb" as one of the funniest satires ever made. The behavior of Establishment types throughout the film is consonant with and nearly as inane as their real-life performances before or since 1965. The plot involves a man dogged by cosmic bad luck, John Goldfarb, dubbed "Wrong Way" by a female reporter after an unfortunate football play some years earlier. A U-2 pilot for the USAF, he meets the same reporter, while going the wrong way in a Washington building. He takes off on a secret mission over Russia, she is forced by her editor to take on an un-feminist assignment: to get the lowdown on girls being smuggled into a Middle Eastern harem, belonging to king Fawz of Fawzia. The third thread of the story is the need to placate oil-rich U.S.ally Fawz after our ambassador sends him pigskin luggage for his anniversary and his son is dropped from Notre Dame's football team, and complains the coach did it because he is Arab, not Irish. The three strands become a tangled knot when his instruments fail and Goldfarb lands not in Russia but in Fawzia, when his fuel runs out. And, of course, he is recruited by Fawz--to train an Arab football team that can defeat Notre Dame and avenge the insult to his son...Goldfarb tries to hold out, shows the King film of Notre Dame's powerful college squad but cannot dissuade him. The King then bribes him with a harem girl; he recognizes Jenny, the girl reporter; she is now trapped in the harem, having been told Fawz is too old for sex but having been singled out for attention by the lecherous king. He chooses her from among a group of eager dancers, to Fawz's displeasure; and they set up housekeeping in a room of the palace; every few hours, a golden toy train goes by, and Fawz asks, "Are you still happy with her?". This Goldfarb nominates (classically) as "dittahowatrola", since a victrola is playing on the train, while a camera snaps flash pictures and a penguin is carried by. He trains a team, finally, to get to go home. Of course they are a disaster--until he recruits Bedouin warriors as college students: "Our country right or wrong," he murmurs. Then it's the turn of the government which lost him in the first place to try to deal with his disappearance; they put ads in newspapers, "John Goldfarb, Please Come Home". And the State Department has to convince the head of Notre Dame to allow his team to play the Arab squad, no easy task. The game is played; and the party that precedes it and the game have become cinematic classics. This is a sexy, spirited and often intelligent romp with only the utter ineptitude of the U.S.'s State Department types as its parody element; it has marvelous satire of Republican governmental methods and sly jabs at every group concerned. Directed with style by J. Lee Thompson, the film boasts set decorations by Stuart A. Reiss and Walter M. Scott, lovely costumes by Adele Balkan, Edith Head and Ray Aghayan, bright cinematography by legendary Leon Shamroy, art direction by Dale Hennesy and Jack Martin Smith. The cast included Richard Crenna as the "crooked astronaut 'Wrong Way' Goldfarb, Pete Ustinov hamming delightfully as the King, Shirley Maclaine trying hard as a frigid girl reporter, Fred Clark, Harry Morgan, Jim Backus, Richard Deacon, David Lewis, and Milton Frome as the government hacks, plus Telly Savalas, Leon Askin, Jerome Cowan, Charles Lane, Jerry Ohrbach, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Patrick Adiarte as the Prince, Scott Brady as Notre Dame's Coach, Jackie Coogan as the University's beleaguered Chancellor, Angela Douglas, Nai Bonet, Irene Tsu and Sultanna as harem girls and now-familiar actors in smaller roles. The film has a fun situation, color, laughs and pretty girls. When Fred Clark pulls the pin on a place destroyed by a cobalt bomb and wonders, "Thulia Oman?", we know we are dealing with a realistic portrayal our state department. Music by John Williams, state department types named Subtle Overreach and Miles Whitepaper--this may be Hollywood but it's as near as the latest headline.
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