This is a lot of big names for a movie I’ve never heard of. Though I’m probably not familiar with most of Beatty and Channing’s work, I am surprised that it hasn’t come up as a Jack Nicholson movie.
I’m surprised just how often the Mann Act comes up in movie plots. While it does have exceptionally broad language thanks to 1910s euphemisms (“immoral purposes”), the number of times I’ve seen movies from before the 80s invoke it about men who take their girlfriends on a trip and run afoul of the law is starting to make me think that Hollywood writers were as ticked off about it as the Hays Code and anti-communist blacklisting.
The comedy arising from a pair of con artists trying badly to con a mark reminds me a bit of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, but there’s no bet or competition, from what I can tell. They’re not sabotaging each other, they’re just honestly bad at this.
This movie is incidentally legendary in my family. I’m told I saw a few minutes of it at an extremely young age until my mother realized she shouldn’t be playing it in the presence of someone so young. So this is the Ur-example of movies I haven’t seen because of good parenting.
The combination of Gene Wilder and the Holmes mythos is an odd one, but both of them individually are reasons to take an interest, so hopefully they merge successfully. I expect the reason Wilder’s character is “Sigerson Holmes” when Mycroft Holmes is a canonical character who is actually smarter than Sherlock is so they have more room to do what they want with him, but I hope Mycroft at least gets a mention. I think the Doyle estate still had American copyright over Holmes characters, so this might be a legal loophole as well.
I think somewhere around the house there’s still an off-air recording of this movie (which has most of the title on the label, but always seemed less like a title and more like a placeholding description), but even if we had a working Betamax player, I don’t like to review from off-air recordings since scenes get cut for time and content, and commercials break the flow in an unintended way. I saw this float through the library again and decided it was time.
Here’s one for the list of “movies you shouldn’t leave the world without seeing.” At least, that’s the message I’m getting. Why a piece of accidental suspense (the tension is built by not seeing the shark, and they only keep the shark offscreen because it looks fake) is worthy of 35 years and counting of praise is something I don’t quite understand.