Daily Archives: December 25, 2011

Walk Don’t Run (1966)

walk don't run

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Three is a crowd.

This film marked Cary Grant’s final on-screen appearance and was also a remake of the 1943 screwball comedy The More the Merrier, which was directed by the legendary George Stevens. The story is about a British businessman named Sir William Rutland (Grant) who travels to Tokyo on business during the 1964 summer Olympics and is unable to find a place to stay as everything is booked up. He spots an ad asking for a roommate on a nearby bulletin board. When he goes to the address he finds that the apartment is being rented by an attractive young lady by the name of Christine Easton (Samantha Eggar).  She at first is reluctant to accept the arrangement as she is rather old-fashioned and feels that a man sharing an apartment with a woman would not look appropriate, but William manages to talk his way in. The next day while at a business meeting William meets a young man who is participating in the Olympics, but will not tell anyone what event he is in. His name is Steve Davis and he is played by the late actor Jim Hutton, who is probably best known to today’s audiences as the father of actor Timothy Hutton as the two look almost exactly alike. Steve is looking for a place to stay as well so William invites him to the apartment, which makes Christine even more apprehensive, but after several ‘Three’s a Company’ type scenarios they eventually get along and Steve and Christine end up falling in love.

I found the first hour to be highly enjoyable.  Grant is an old-pro and goes through his role with amazing ease. Every scene he is in is amusing and I would highly recommend the film simply for his appearance alone. I felt the film started to stagnate when they introduced the romance angle. This was another situation were in my opinion the relationship was forced and formulaic and simply put in because the producers felt it would be ‘cute’. It didn’t seem to make a lot of sense why the characters would fall in love anyways since they had only known each other for a couple of days.  It is one thing if a person is desperately looking for someone, but that was not the case with Steve who is very independent and tells everyone he has no interest in marriage. There is nothing shown as to what about Christine’s personality would click with him to begin with.  Yes, she is pretty, but she spends most of the film being rather defensive towards them and more concerned with keeping a ‘proper’ distance. The two stars show no real chemistry either.

This was an unusual foray for actress Eggar as she rarely does comedy. She mainly works in horror films and thrillers and is best known for her performances in The Collector, The Walking Stick, The Brood, and The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun. I felt in those types of roles she did exceptionally well, but here her comic timing seemed off and almost non-existent when compared to the two male leads.

There is also a very silly subplot dealing with Steve being accused as a spy and this culminates with a protracted scene at a Japanese police station where all the characters get interrogated by actor George Takei from ‘Star Trek’, which isn’t good for even a few chuckles. Another scenario involves Christine’s fiancé, Julius Haversack (John Standing), and William’s attempts to keep him away from Christine so that Steve can be with her. This storyline falls flat as well simply because the Julius character is so over-the-top stupid and gullible that William’s shenanigans don’t come off as being all that clever or amusing.

About the only thing that revives the film is the climactic race where the participants are required to walk and not run, hence the film’s title. I found this interesting because I had never seen or heard of this type of race before, but apparently it is a regular event at the Olympics and has been since 1928. The difference in a walking race as opposed to a running one is that the participants must always keep a part of their foot on the ground at all times. The result looks kind of goofy, like an old person trying to run, which explains why Steve was too embarrassed to tell anyone what he did.  I found this segment interesting although the story again gets too exaggerated as the other characters get into a cab and drive alongside Steve during the race, which I didn’t think would happen because there would be enough police officers and Olympic officials there to block them. However, I loved the part where William strips down to his underwear and starts fast-walking alongside Steve and then when he is finished he goes onto a bus and rides home still in his undies with everyone staring at him.

I felt like this was two story’s put into one with the first half being much better than the second. I almost wished they had just kept it focused on the three cohabitating together and not even brought in the romantic angle at all, or maybe just at the very end.  The movie is funniest when Grant is involved and any scene without him seems to fizzle. The music score by legendary Quincy Jones is cool and I wished they had played more of that as well.  It was filmed on-location in Tokyo, but you never really get a good feel of the city, or the Japanese culture. I think more filming in the downtown locations as well as certain landmarks was needed. There were also a few outdoor scenes that despite being nicely detailed where clearly done on an indoor soundstage.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: June 29, 1966

Runtime: 1Hour 54Minutes

Rated NR (Not Rated)

Director: Charles Walters

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video

All the Marbles (1981)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: These wrestlers are hot.

Peter Falk does another terrific job playing a lovable, but eccentric character. Here he takes on the role of a con-man type manager of two lady wrestlers (Laurene Landon, Vicki Frederick).

This film marked the final project by director Robert Aldrich who did such classics as Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, The Dirty Dozen, and Kiss Me Deadly. Although it didn’t do too much on its initial release, it has since acquired a small, but fervent following. These people insist this is the best movie about wrestling and some even go as far to say it is the best sports-themed movie ever. Warner Brothers has become aware of the attention and has now added it to its special-order DVD collection that can be purchased for twenty-five dollars from its archive website.

I remember when this film was released and after seeing the previews I was convinced it was just a mindless T&A picture, but I have read about enough people who have liked it that I decided I needed to give it a view. However, I came away from the film unimpressed with the majority of it. The main problem is that, although labeled a comedy, they stick in some awkward drama in order to show the downside of the wrestling profession. It doesn’t work because the two women playing the wrestlers can’t act. Landon in particular is a problem. She plays the blonde half and has an annoying monotone quality to her voice making her sound like she is simply reading her lines straight off of the script. Both lady characters seem to react to everything in predictable ways and thus become boring. The scenarios and conversations are soap opera like and end up bogging the whole thing down.

I like the attempt at showing the gritty side of the business and even inserting some realism, but this could have been down in a satirical form while still keeping it consistently funny.  A film like Smile from 1975 made some trenchant comments about the beauty pageant business, but remained funny and clever throughout without any of the strained drama like here.

Now with that said, I can still see why this film has attracted some fans and that is based solely on the wrestling scenes, which are excellent. The two actresses were trained by Mildred Burke a famous female wrestler from the 30’s and 40’s.  The techniques they use are true to form and look very authentic and, at times, even painful. Aldrich captures the action from different angles and it is fast and furious. I am no wrestling fan, but found myself caught up in it. The wrestling scenes are without question the best part of the film and there should have been more of them. The climatic match closely resembles the Rocky formula and it is a lot of fun. The highlight here comes when the two women attack and beat-up the crooked referee (played by Richard Jaeckel).

I must also mention that I like Burt Young as the heavy. He gives off one of the creepiest, weirdest laughs you will ever hear.  It was alsogreat to see legendary Los Angeles Lakers announcer Chick Hearn as the ringside announcer during the final match. He even ends up saying the film’s title.

If you don’t like wrestling than this otherwise obscure film is not worth checking out. If you do like wrestling than this film may be worth it however, I would suggest just fast-forwarding to those scenes and skipping the rest.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: October 16, 1981

Runtime: 1Hour 53Minutes

Director: Robert Aldrich

Studio: MGM

Available: DVD (Warner Archive), Amazon Instant Video