Tag Archives: Joe Flynn

The Barefoot Executive (1971)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Chimp picks the hits.

Stuck working in a television network’s mailroom, Steven (Kurt Russell) longs for his big-break into the programming department as his previous attempts to impress upper management (Harry Morgan, Joe Flynn) have all failed. Then his girlfriend Jennifer (Heather North) is put in charge of taking care of her neighbor’s chimp while they are away. To Steven’s surprise the chimp shows an uncanny ability to know which TV shows will be a success and which will flop. He decides to use the chimp’s talents and pretend that they are his own, which he hopes will finally let him climb up the corporate ladder.

This film is a little bit different from all the other Disney flicks from that era in that there aren’t the slapstick hijinks or the patented car chase. The emphasis is instead on satire that for the most part hits the mark. It also has a protagonist that isn’t so squeaky clean either. Russell’s character is more than willing to lie and even cheat if he thinks it can help him move ahead and although he has a slight tinge of guilt about it’s never enough to get him to completely mend his ways, which helps to make him seem more human and the situation more believable.

Joe Flynn is quite funny in support. He was a comic character actor who had a great ability to play both exasperated authority types as well as meek subordinates and here he does both. He also has an amusing scene with Wally Cox on top of a ledge of a high rise building and I couldn’t help but think about the irony as I watched these two carry out the scene that only three years after this film’s release these otherwise healthy looking middle-aged men would both be dead. There’s also the novelty of seeing two alumni from ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ appear here with Hayden Rorke, who played Dr. Bellows on the TV-show and a TV exec here, and Bill Daily who ironically plays an airplane navigator, which he also later did on ‘The Bob Newhart Show’.

The film’s funniest moment though is actually just a throwaway bit where a news reporter, played by Jack Smith, goes out and gets the opinions of people on the street about their take on the rumors that a chimp is picking the TV shows that they watch. He interviews one woman (Iris Adrian) who at first scoffs at the notion, but then thinks about how all of her favorite shows get cancelled and how so many stupid ones gets put on the air and then comes to the conclusion that a monkey running the network makes perfect sense. It brought to mind a memoir written by legendary screenwriter William Goldman detailing in his opinion how studio execs really don’t have any clue what film will become a hits, which becomes the film’s best joke as in all honesty you’d have just as much luck with a chimp picking the stuff as you would a person.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: March 17, 1971

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

Rated G

Director: Robert Butler

Studio: Buena Vista

Available: DVD, Amazon Video, YouTube

The Girl Most Likely to…(1973)

girl most likely 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Ugly girl gets revenge.

Miriam (Stockard Channing) is a homely student attending college who can’t seem to find a boyfriend or even any friends. Instead she is ostracized and rejected constantly in the cruelest ways possible. Upset by her depressing life she one day gets into her car and drives recklessly down the highway only to get into a crash, which forces surgeons to do major reconstructive surgery on her face that amazingly turns her into a beautiful woman. Now she can have any guy that she wants, but the bitterness of the way she was treated in the past eats away at her and she instead decides to get revenge by killing off all the people that rejected her using increasingly novel methods.

This made-for-TV film was written by Joan Rivers and it has the same humor that she used in her stand-up comedy act, which mainly focused on women’s deep seated insecurities involving their looks and the need to get married and please their husband. To some degree the whole thing is quite dated particularly the idea that a woman’s sole purpose in life is to use their looks to snare a rich husband who will then take care of them for the rest of their life. The humor and characters are also extremely clichéd and broad, but it still manages to have some funny bits.

Channing’s presence helps immensely and she manages to somehow carry off the role with dignity despite being degraded and humiliated at every turn. Her ugly makeover is impressive particularly the way they wadded up her nose to make her left nostril much larger than the right one, which had me reluctantly focused on it every time it came into view.

girl most likely 2

The supporting cast features many familiar faces in small, bit parts some of which are quite funny including Joe Flynn as a surgeon unable to find a patient’s appendix, Larry Wilcox as a dumb football player named Moose, Warren Berlinger as Miriam’s plumber fiancée and Susanne Zenor as the haughty roommate. This also marks the acting debut of Larry Manetti who can be spotted in a small role as a football player.

The murders themselves are what help stand this film apart from the others in what otherwise could be described as a Carrie precursor. The scene where Miriam kills off the Wilcox character while skydiving is impressively captured as is the segment where Berlinger drowns in a flood in his own bathroom. The only one that doesn’t quite make sense is when she tries to kill a pool player by having him hit the eight ball that is secretly a bomb. However, when it does finally go off, it explodes the entire pool hall, which would’ve easily killed Miriam along with the others had she not been inadvertently lead away at the last minute.

Fans of black humor should especially enjoy this and for a TV-movie it is far and away better than most. It also scores better than River’s theatrical feature Rabbit Test, which she did five years later and wasn’t funny at all.

girl most likely 3

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: November 6, 1973

Runtime: 1Hour 15Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Lee Phillips

Studio: ABC Circle Films

Available: DVD

Gentle Savage (1973)

gentle savage 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Indian accused of rape.

Camper John (William Smith) is an Indian living in a small town who gets accused of raping a white girl (Betty Ann Carr) by Ken (Kevin Hagen) her stepfather even though it was actually Ken who did it. The hidden prejudices of the predominantly white folks come to light against the nearby Indian community. Both sides take up arms and become intent on crushing the other causing hysteria and violent outbreaks while Camper John tries hiding out until it blows over.

If there is anything distinctive about this otherwise formulaic and predictable low budget drama is the fact that it paints vigilantism as more of a problem than a solution even if the one side feels completely justified, which I found to be a refreshing and more realistic take on the issue especially as the Indian group becomes as vindictive, violent and hateful as the people they are trying to fight. However, it would’ve been nice had there been at least one white person who wasn’t portrayed as being completely narrow-minded and bigoted, which in a lot of ways comes off as reverse racism by the filmmakers.

The music is loud and overly dramatic, which gives the proceedings a very heavy-handed feel. In a lot of ways it comes off as a poor man’s Billy Jack, which was already pretty amateurish and one-dimensional to begin with although still far better than this thing. The 75 minute version that I viewed had an abrupt ending that seemed incomplete and failed to tie up many loose ends, but I wasn’t complaining as even with the abbreviated runtime it was still highly protracted, overblown and tedious with the scene of a water tower tank exploding and dousing everyone on the street with tons of water being the only slightly diverting moment.

Smith is intense in the lead, but he should’ve been given more dialogue especially at the beginning as the viewer barely gets to know or understand him before being jettisoned into his quandary. Character actor R. G. Armstrong who normally plays menacing characters is quite wimpish here as a bartender who gets held down and forced to swallow drink after drink when he tries closing down the bar before the patrons were ready. Hagen is competent as the bad guy, but casting Gene Evans and Joe Flynn as a bumbling sheriff and deputy in an attempt at misguided ‘comic relief’ in the Last House on the Left-type vein was a big mistake. One scene even has them handcuffed together wearing nothing but their underpants while forced to walk across the desert, but it all adds little and takes away from the tension, which is the only time that this flat film ever becomes mildly diverting.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Alternate Title: Camper John

Released: March 7, 1973

Runtime: 1Hour 25Minutes (Full Version)

Rated R

Director: Sean MacGregor

Studio: Cinemation Industries

Available: None at this time.

Did You Hear the One About the Traveling Saleslady? (1968)

did you hear the traveling saleslady

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Saleslady saves family farm.

Agatha (Phyllis Diller) is a traveling saleswoman who arrives in a small Missouri town in the summer of 1910 trying to sell a piano that can play by itself. During a demonstration of it one of the townspeople, the kindly, but inept Bertram (Bob Denver) accidently destroys it. Agatha now finds herself stuck with a piano she can’t sell and nowhere to go. Bertram allows her to stay at his family farm, which is at risk of being foreclosed by the town’s greedy banker Hubert Shelton (Joe Flynn). Bertram and Agatha come up with a way to save the farm by winning an automobile race in a wild vehicle created by Bertram using parts from the destroyed piano.

It seems hard to believe in retrospect that eccentric comedian Diller was ever considered star making material, but she did 8 films during the 60’s with 4 of them centered on her flamboyant persona. All of them tanked both critically and at the box office with this one being the last of them. I imagine trying to come up with a scenario using Diller as the centerpiece would be no easy task, but this screenplay penned by John Fenton Murray is too broadly written to be even remotely interesting and seemed already badly dated even for its era. The humor is locked in a kiddie level with a plot that is excessively simplistic and won’t intrigue anyone over the age of 6.

Diller pretty much just plays herself, which would be alright if some her jokes and lines were actually funny, but none of them are. The reoccurring gags centered on her whacky outfits, ugly appearance and horses that go crazy the second she reveals any part of her legs gets old fast. Denver’s character is nothing more than an extension of Gilligan and Flynn is pretty much being the same character he was in ‘McHale’s Navy’.

The film is watchable if you come into it with extremely low expectations, but that is not saying much. None of the gags work and the town’s set was clearly filmed inside Universal’s studio lot, which looks phony and annoying. Denver’s milking machine invention, which can milk 6 cows at once, has potential, but when the cows escape and rampage the entire town it becomes forced humor at its worst, which goes likewise for the climatic and silly car race.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: July 14, 1968

Runtime: 1Hour 34Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Don Weis

Studio: Universal

Available: None at this time.