By Richard Winters
My Rating: 5 out of 10
4-Word Review: House slides down cliff.
Carlo (Tony Curtis) is a single 40-something man traveling through coastal California when he decides to pull his Volkswagen beetle over to the side of the road and get out to enjoy the gorgeous view. Problem is that Laura (Claudia Cardinale) is pulling out and her car’s bumper hooks onto his and his car goes speeding down the hill and crashes. All of his money was in the car, so Laura agrees to allow him to stay at her place for a while, but then her boyfriend Rod (Robert Webber) shows up who throws Carlo out onto the beach where he becomes acclimated with the beach bums including beautiful Malibu (Sharon Tate). He wants to date her, but she has a muscular boyfriend named Harry (David Draper). Carlo though has a plan to steal her away as well as getting a cushy job as a pool salesman and a beachfront home that ultimately goes crashing down the cliff just like his car did.
Curtis is engaging in the lead and shows great flair for frantic comedy, but his character has no backstory, which makes him generic and undistinguished. His constant conniving including tricking Harry into no longer having sex with Malibu so he can get his hands on her isn’t all that appealing since Harry is a rather nice guy and I was hoping he would give Curtis a much deserving punch in the face in the end, which unfortunately doesn’t happen.
Cardinale is sexy. Her tan, sleek figure, Italian accent and feisty temper make every scene that she is fun and sensuous. The fact that the character is at times quite oblivious to her surroundings and at other points very observant makes her interesting and quite human.
Tate’s performance is weak and her amount of speaking lines quite limited. The part was originally intended for Julie Newmar who might have been a bit better. However, the scene showing her bouncing up and down on a trampoline while wearing a bikini that even gets shown in slow-motion and freeze frame will be more than enough to satisfy most males.
The film features some impressive stunt work. The opening bit where Curtis tries to catch up with his rolling car and even gets his pants leg caught on fire isn’t bad. The part where Curtis falls from a plane and goes free falling into the air without a parachute is quite vivid even though stuntman Bob Buquor ended up getting killed during the sequence. The best part though is at the end when Curtis’s ritzy home and pool go sliding down a steep cliff during a rainstorm and subsequent mudslide. The special effects are outstanding even by today’s standards. The mud flowing through the place and the shots showing five occupants forced to survive in the home in a Poseidon-like scenario when it gets turned upside down before finally sliding down onto the cusp of the ocean is entertaining enough to make sitting through the rest of it almost worth it.
Unfortunately outside of this and the breathtaking scenery the film is quite vapid. The story is too unfocused and doesn’t seem to know what kind of message it wants to make. The scenarios and situations are trite and offer no momentum or plot progression. The theme of a middle-aged man trying to get in with the young mod generation of the time was handled much more effectively in I Love You Alice B. Toklas, which starred Peter Sellers and came out around the same time.
My Rating: 5 out of 10
Released: June 20, 1967
Runtime: 1Hour 37Minutes
Director: Alexander Mackendrick
Available: DVD (Warner Archive), Amazon Instant Video