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The Busy Body (1967)

Not Rated | | Comedy | 12 March 1967 (USA)
Sid Caesar stars as the bumbling right hand man of mob boss Robert Ryan who is sent to find a corpse buried in a suit lined with stolen mob money.



(screenplay), (novel)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ma Norton
Jan Murray ...
Murray Foster
Fred Harwell
Felix Rose
Kurt Brock
Archie Brody
Mr. Fessel
Mickey Deems ...
Cop #1


Sid Caesar plays a bumbling gopher to mob boss Robert Ryan who discovers a large theft of mob money. His bookkeeper is killed shortly before he can reveal the thief. When the discovery is made, Ryan suspects Caesar as the culprit, and probable murderer of the bookkeeper. Caesar spends the rest of the movie trying to find the real killer and a corpse buried in a suit lined with the stolen money. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A Joyous Comedy of Peril! See more »




Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

12 March 1967 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

O Cadáver Ambulante  »

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Film debut of Richard Pryor. See more »


Charley Barker: You guys are gonna learn class, or I'll kick your teeth in!
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Out of Nowhere
Lyrics by Edward Heyman
Music by Johnny Green
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User Reviews

THE BUSY BODY (William Castle, 1967) **1/2
28 April 2014 | by See all my reviews

Having spent the best part of the first 15 years of his directorial career at Columbia – mostly under the aegis of prolific but cheapjack producer Sam Katzman – William Castle defected to a smaller studio, Allied Artists, in order to make his mark on film history with the horror comic MACABRE (1958). When he improved his gimmicky formula with HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL at the same studio but with a bigger star (Vincent Price), his old employers Columbia invited him back into their stable where he spent another five years making some of his most popular and enduring work like THE TINGLER (1959; which reunited him with Price), HOMICIDAL (1961) and STRAIT-JACKET (1964; with Hollywood legend Joan Crawford). At this point, he made a three-movie detour to Universal (where he had work intermittently before in the late 1940s/early 1950s) which culminated in the black comedy LET'S KILL UNCLE (1966; with Nigel Green), by which time his tried-and-tested fusion of horror, comedy and showmanship had begun to wear thin. This signaled yet another (and, in retrospect, final) move on Castle's part resulting in a somewhat unproductive but eventually rewarding 10-year tenure at Paramount…

Although he had previously dwelt in outright comedy, even during his golden period, with his two resistible Tom Poston vehicles – ZOTZ! (1962) and his fairly disastrous colour remake of THE OLD DARK HOUSE (1963) – what came next was almost as significant a departure as MACABRE had been from his earlier work. Indeed, in THE BUSY BODY, Castle had at his disposal the best cast of his entire career – a sure sign for an iconoclastic producer-director that he had hit the mainstream. Ironically, the film's rare screening one Sunday evening many years ago on local TV proved to be my introduction to the director's work and it would be much later that I caught up with the aforementioned movies which had made his reputation as, to put it bluntly, the poor man's Alfred Hitchcock! Indeed, the film under review had the potential of becoming Castle's own THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY (1955; the "Master of Suspense"'s second favourite among his films) given the funereal aspects of the plot…but this being the "anything goes" Swinging Sixties, rather than the delightfully subtle black humour of the latter, it went for the broad and overdone farcical style of Stanley Kramer's IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD (1963; with which it shared leading man Sid Casear, no less!) in its depiction of yet another multi-character chase after buried loot…

This is not to say that the resultant movie is unenjoyable – and my middlebrow rating attests to that – but perhaps one expected something more durable from the likes of tough guys Robert Ryan and Charles McGraw, Anne Baxter and Kay Medford, emerging comedians Richard Pryor (in his film debut), Godfrey Cambridge and Dom DeLuise, veteran comics Ben Blue (also returning from the Kramer opus) and George Jessel, etc. Caesar is the latest addition to the "board" of racketeer Ryan (having a great time lampooning his established image), chosen for his sartorial sense which the boss believes will lend a much-needed touch of class to the organization (including McGraw, whom Ryan berates for looking just like a hoodlum!). However, the protagonist is continuously checked on by mother Medford (perhaps the film's single funniest line has her tell Police Lieutenant Pryor: "What'd you think…that I'm one of those possessive mothers?!") and also becomes involved with two women – shady Baxter and ex-showgirl Arlene Golonka, actually the wife of a Caesar associate whose death during a barbecue and subsequent burial wearing the suit he normally carries a million dollars in for Ryan sets the whole plot in motion. Also on hand are a mortician and his sacked assistant (DeLuise), a beloved cop's funeral (at which Caesar ends up being among the pallbearers), an insurance fraud gone awry that leads to murder (again, Caesar becomes the unwitting patsy for these), Caesar's proverbial "taken for a ride" by Cambridge and partner which features a couple of dummies (one of which creates much consternation when propped on a park bench) and, of course, the multiple unearthing of the grave which invariably contains no body. No prizes for guessing the true villain's identity but, for the most part, the film makes for a pleasant if hefty 102 minutes – especially in the good-looking widescreen print I watched.

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