By Richard Winters
My Rating: 6 out of 10
4-Word Review: It’s all about money.
Allen Funt the creator of ‘Candid Camera’ returns with his second cinematic feature all centered around pranks and stunts done on unsuspecting regular people to see just how far they will go when presented with the allure of money. The film examines the deep seated psychological effect that money has in society and how it controls what people do and in some cases what they don’t do.
This feature is an improvement over Funt’s first. Fortunately he keeps the majority of it on a comic level and avoids trying to make unnecessary ‘profound’ social statements. The film is also faster paced and although the music is still annoying it isn’t as bad and has a bit more of a funky beat. Some of the stunts aren’t necessarily all that funny and few become rather redundant and predictable. However, the majority of them I liked and even found fascinating including the one where a woman walks down the street and intentionally allows dollar bills to fall out of a hole in her pocket and drop to the ground behind her and how surprisingly many people would pick them up and chase after her to give them back. The funniest one is where a mild mannered middle-aged woman gets a job answering phone calls for a man who she finds out is a professional hit man. Hearing her diligently taking down an order and answering questions over the price of a hit while trying to mask her shock and remain calm had me laughing-out-loud.
A few of them are definite artifacts of a bygone era including the many relentless attempts a woman goes through to try to retrieve a simple five dollar bill that is lodged beneath a car tire. Another segment has a bare foot hippie girl begging for money on a street sidewalk and her startlingly naïve willingness to go back to a strange man’s apartment who approaches her and says he has shoes for her, which she almost does until Funt and crew advise her not to.
A few of the pranks have celebrities in disguise. My favorite was the one with actress Marian Mercer pretending to be a waitress and asking beforehand how much of a tip the customer planned to give her, so she could plan out what type of service she would give him. The segment where comedian Henny Youngman has no money to pay a hot dog vendor, so instead he tells the irritated man a bunch of lame jokes as ‘payment’ is quite funny and I wished it had been extended longer. Muhammad Ali’s bit isn’t quite as good, but his personality is as engaging as ever.
The film also has some good interviews including an opening bit where a commercial jingle writer comes up with on-the-spot a ditty for the film’s theme, which is not bad. Dominic the knife sharpener becomes almost a show in itself with the flamboyant way that he tries to bargain with Funt over not only how much he should be paid to sharpen his knives, but also for his fee to appear in the film. The interviews with hippies who don’t have jobs and don’t want them could have been more interesting had we seen what happened to them twenty years later and if they were still adamantly in the non-work camp, which I doubt. Funt also interviews his own 6-year-old daughter who is surprisingly more perceptive than you might think.
My Rating: 6 out of 10
Released: August 30, 1972
Runtime: 1Hour 21Minutes
Director: Allen Funt
Studio: United Artists
Available: Amazon Instant Video, Netflix streaming