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This had a long reputation as one of the worst movies ever made, though few had actually seen it. It took me until the winter of 2007 to catch up with this one, and while by no means a good movie, it is at least an interesting one. I understand that the backstory behind this low budget production was that The Dick Van Dyke Show was wrapping up, and a few of its stars put together an independent movie. Morey Amsterdam produced, co-wrote, and starred, along with Rose Marie and Richard Deacon. As insurance, he filled his script with jokes, and filled his movie with cameos. Its plot about spies and espionage does not hold together, but now, after 40 years, the movie works on another level. The plot is dated, the stars and cameos are very much from another era of showbiz, and the jokes are of the irresistibly corny variety that have also faded into memory. So now the film is a quirky little cultural artifact of sorts. It is not good cinema, but in the wake of the Police Academy series, Dude Where's My Car, and Freddy Got Fingered, it can hardly be called among the worst movies ever made. It is offbeat, silly, dated, and, if you're in the right frame of mind, rather fun, especially if you have an interest in the era, or fond memories of it.
The (non-)title is a dead giveaway.
This movie is notable for having its cast derived from the old Dick Van Dyke Show. Buddy, Sally, Mel, and Alan, they're all here, only this time they're not funny. We know the actors and actress are good, and their characters are tried and true. All we lack is a script. Don't worry, we'll think up a script after we start shooting.
I believe this movie represents the last gasp of vaudeville. Shot in
beautifully clear black-and-white, on a set that is so obviously a set
and not at all realistic, this film presents a stage on which we see
the last great vaudeville act for the very last time.
It's all about slapstick physical humor where the victim is hurt only for the length of the shot. It's all about one-liners, where the straight-man responds by making an exasperated face or rolling his or her eyes.
And gimmicks stolen from other acts (e.g. Get Smart) that are familiar to the audience.
And the long pauses between action moments -- giving time for the folks in the back of the theater to realize what just happened and start laughing before the people in front have stopped laughing.
And the walk-on cameos of famous performers to keep the people interested, lest they realize that there is no plot worth caring about.
Apparently many people watched the film (based on the rash of reviews) on its single showing on TCM. Robert Osbourne did not introduce the film, which is regrettable. I really would like to have seen how he characterized this piece of work.
Fans of the The Dick Van Dyke Show (like me) may remember episode 40, "The Secret Life of Buddy and Sally" in which Morey Amsterdam's character and Rose Marie's character create and put on their own show at a club on the weekends. Well, this film is what would happen if Buddy and Sally sneaked off to make a movie on a long weekend, and Mel Cooley (Richard Deacon's character) actually produced and directed it. Vaudeville, filmed in noir, on the cheapest set money could rent.
No offense to any of the terrific veteran actors in the movie -- most of them had great roles elsewhere. But you do need a cup of strong coffee and a curious mind to enjoy what they were attempting in ... whatever its title was.
One of the weirder things I've seem on TV. Turner Classic Movies has
been showing some rarely seen stuff lately and some of the movies are
I certainly wouldn't call this a gem by any means. I mainly turned it on just to see why I'd never heard of it before. First I thought I turned on TV Land by mistake. Most of the cast of The Dick Van Dyke Show is in this. I noticed there was no laugh track when Morey Amsterdan cracked a one liner and something seemed missing. That sent me to IMDb to investigate. I then watched simply because of the cameo appearances in the movie.
The movie has a lot of sight gags and wise cracks. A bit like an over length 3 Stooges episode and it does have Moe Howard in one of his final screen appearances.
This movie is about a girl who inherits a bookstore, and the "wacky
antics" of her employees. This movie definitely plays on the cold war
mentality and fear of espionage of the time, but for laughs. It
features some of 1960's television, and 1930's film's greatest stars
(Supporting cast of the Dick Van Dyke show, Moe Howard of Three Stooges
fame, Milton Berl, Steve Allen, etc...) Chock full of one liners
(pretty much the whole movie is set ups for one liners), it takes what
would make a 30 minute sitcom hilarious, and makes a 90 minute movie
annoying. This movie is really quite goofy. HOWEVER, I really think a
kid might find it quite funny...and by kid I mean under 10 yrs.
Seeing all the cameos is a nice trip down nostalgia-lane for the over 40 folks, if you are not interested in a plot, a script, and acting talent.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When I read the reviews for this film, I was surprised. They were
bad....REALLY bad. So had that a sane person would have probably just
skipped this movie. Yet, I was intrigued...a film starring the three
supporting characters from "The Dick Van Dyke Show"--Morey Amsterdam,
Rose Marie and, at times, Richard Deacon (they don't seem sure what to
do with him in the film, actually). It sounded bad but also curiously
appealing---especially to a cinemanic like me. I loved these three on
the show--would it be enough to carry the film? And, should I have just
heeded their advice? Early on I was surprised to see Danny Thomas pop
by for a cameo. This isn't THAT surprising, as he was the creator of
"The Dick Van Dyke Show"--but it still caught me off guard. I then
noticed that the film had the look and style of a TV show--with credits
that looked identical to those used for "The Beverly Hillbillies" as
well as the same filmed look.
The film is a VERY broad espionage comedy--much like "The Nasty Rabbit" and "Last of the Secret Agents?"--and this is not very distinguished company. And, as a broad comedy, it's filled with one-liners coming one after another. While I loved these one-liners on their show, here there was no let-up--a case where less would have been more. In addition, such slapstick touches as playing the film backwards, Richard Deacon sitting on a cake, a spy camera in a hat, etc.--though there seemed to be a lot more of this at the beginning.
It seems that Morey is the spitting image of a cosmonaut who has defected to the United States--and Soviet spies are anxious to get him. In addition, at his job in a bookstore, there seem to be all kinds of odd goings on--with people tunneling underneath and goateed spy-types coming in and out of the place. Anyone with half a brain or more would call the police...so naturally Morey and Rose Marie do nothing for quite some time. And, when they do, they investigate on their own--no police. In this basement, they find NOTHING that should be in the basement of the bookstore--such as giant stuffed gorillas and a live turtle. Did anyone THINK when they created this scene? And, for all that happens next, none of it makes a lot of sense--college parties with Maury and Rose Marie, art lectures and the rest. It looked as if the writers took every idea they had and haphazardly tossed it into the film. As a result, while the film has a few laughs here and there, it comes off as very juvenile and silly--and not in a good way. Worth watching only if you are desperate or very curious.
By the way, in addition to Danny Thomas, there were tons of other cameos--Moe Howard, Forrest Tucker, Irene Ryan (driving the truck from her show) and Nick Adams. I particularly liked Reiner's cameo--it was actually pretty funny. Also, after having seen this film , I wonder if perhaps this was meant as a pilot for a TV series. After all, their show was wrapping up production and perhaps this was an attempt to hang on to the magic....a very BAD attempt.
I hoped the lazy, arch title would be deceptive. It isn't. The movie is
a series of one-liners, improbable situations, and lackluster cameo
The joke in "The Aristocrats" is said to be old. Hey, it can't be as old as some of the ones used here; and it's much funnier.
Someone who had never seen The Dick Van Dyke TV show would be at a loss here. The stars are that show's delightful Rose Marie and the less delightful but reliably amusing Morey Amsterdam. Richard Deacon, also from the show, plays two roles.
Typical of the ineptitude displayed throughout is the "Beatnik" party the primary characters attend. At it, clean-cut people dance in very square fashion to music with a bland sound that predates rock 'n' roll. This music actually sounds like the theme song to "The Munsters" TV show. That show was pretty lame but it had distinct characters. To show how really bad this is, by comparison to this exceptionally slapdash and unfunny movie, "The Munsters" seems like Restoration Comedy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've always been a fan of Morey Amsterdam. I mean, he was known as "the
human joke machine" and I was a excited to see his writing credit on
the movie. But, after this fine example of his work, I'm ready to blame
him for the death of vaudeville.
This movie was like a cross between "The Monkeys" & "The Three Stooges". It felt like someone made a movie out of a mad lib. A mid lib filled out by potheads. There was no real plot to the movie, but at the same time there were many confusing sub plots. Some kind of government conspiracy involving a Barbra Streisand impersonator. That's all I remember before the brain aneurysm, presumably caused by the movie, left me unconscious on the floor.
I went across this film on TV and watched it mainly because I had
enjoyed a lot the first "The Dick van Dyke Show" and everybody but the
main couple was there. In my opinion they didn't think of anything at
all here, not just the title.
The conclusion could be that the cast was comfortable on television but the big screen was too big for them. Director Harmon Jones started making some average or below average pictures but ended up filming episodes of different series of the little screen; this was probably his right place. Rose Marie and Morey Amsterdam don't reach at all their funny performances with van Dyke and several cameo appearances by well known comedians don't help either.
Can't recall a single smile with this one.
Writer / Producer Morey Amsterdam attempts to spoof the spy film genre.
The style is very similar to "Get Smart", but not nearly as
well-written. Most of the jokes fall flat. The endless stream of cameos
a la "Mad Mad World" is occasionally amusing, but not enough to save
This was obviously made on the cheap -- most of the action is confined to a bookstore, and there are only about 3 other sets in the entire film.
Morey Amsterdam and Rose Marie were perfect sidekicks on The Dick Van Dyke Show. Their chemistry is one of the reasons that show is such a classic. Unfortunately, they can't carry a film on their own, at least not one as badly written as this. Even their one-liners, of which there are plenty, are pretty lame.
If you think this might be worth a look just for curiosity, especially if you're a Dick Van Dyke Show fan, then do yourself a favor -- skip it.
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