When you’re dealing with counterfeiters, what is it you want—a flat reading of all the facts, the pig sty with an Annunciation, or are you after the round dealing with a nebulosity bordering on tantrums and mania?

Fleischer steps of course out of John Huston’s The Maltese Falcon with a marvelously prized mechanism, the medium shot that capitulates the scrim for a fighter’s mobility. Where it is not varied by dynamic asymmetry in long shots, it is essentially fluid, and shows the place where photography becomes cinema.

This boogie-woogie film noir is, in other words, technically capable. The opening (after the March of Time overture) looks like a model for Grosbard’s Straight Time, a few seconds just before the ending may have been recalled by Peter Yates for Bullitt. There’s a reverse shot from Griffith’s Abraham Lincoln, followed by a brief accounting of Sekely’s Hollow Triumph (The Scar), an odd climax reflected in Sargent’s The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, and a last shot exactly like Maté’s D.O.A.


The Narrow Margin

Variety snubbed it and the New York Times didn’t, both having somehow missed the point.

Fleischer as so often not taken seriously because his pure surrealism looks like film noir, in this case.

“We were like them that dream”, the husband who paid everybody off is no threat, the mob widow is something else again, the whole nightmare shakes off at Union Station, “two blocks from the Hall of Justice”.

The title is, among other things, a joke on the fat man in a train corridor it’s hard to get around.


20000 Leagues Under the Sea

The bitter complexity of Fleischer’s images is his most particular achievement, for which Moby Dick is the emblem and reversal. Essentially the structure is akin to The Tempest, whence “Full fadom five” tacitly accompanying the first sight of Nemo and his crew in a cortege and Christian burial on the sea floor. There’s Bach in the main cabin of the Nautilus, Nemo’s organ-pipes are decorated with his initial, the submarine dances on the waves in the final scene and sinks stern-first, the projecting spar at the bow of its iron hull stands at the last like a Gothic spire (“La Cathédrale engloutie”) or a buoy (Le Voyeur) before disappearing.

One of the most important of several large-scale models for Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey this is, especially in the underwater sequences. The submarine’s “propulsion unit” with its piercing light-rays finds its way into Russell’s Altered States by way of Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly. The lagoon in the center of Vulcania recurs in Gilbert’s You Only Live Twice.


Violent Saturday

The role of Violent Saturday is a capacious examination of Zinnemann’s High Noon, and then a large-scale springboard for many other films as a result. The main structural element, Richard Egan as the junior mine boss and Victor Mature as his subordinate, is realized as Gerald Crich and Rupert Birkin in Russell’s Women in Love, the Egan/Crich theme is further extended (with Fleischer’s Nurse Sherman) as Losey’s The Romantic Englishwoman, Mature’s marital bliss figures in The Pumpkin Eater (Clayton), and right on down the line.

A terribly complex and abstruse film to analyze, witness the critical void and at the same time a professional engagement of such dimensions, consciously or not.

One remarkable fact that has been noted is that, while the ramifications of the film are many amid the resources of the CinemaScope screen, the duration is suitably compressed to a mere ninety minutes.


The Girl In The Red Velvet Swing

The Artist’s mistress, the Millionaire’s wife, a Floradora girl, a Gibson girl.

When it’s all said and done, one is dead, the other legally insane, and she does four shows nightly in Atlantic City.

The Stanford White-Harry K. Thaw murder case, from interviews with Evelyn Nesbit (as pointed out in a prefatory title) and the record.


The Vikings

Primitive tribesmen conquer a small English kingdom, it takes a long time and shatters a Viking chieftain, but there’s just the split of an understanding towards the end, a Christian modernity sleeping in this time a thousand years ago.

The strange formation of the screenplay specifically avoids dramatic complications that are evident, the Vikings are creatures of fate and not reason, their reasoning is on another plane.

Blood ties, a feminine way of thinking about possession, a visible sense of retribution, these are the old virtues that are broken down over the years by a fatal raid.

The filming virtuosically ascends through long mobile takes to the storming of the castle and a swordfight on its topmost pinnacle overlooking the sea.

Altman’s curious analysis in Countdown specifically counters a millennium gone by with the civilian astronaut’s toy gizmo answering to the half-Viking’s lodestone fish.



The fictional structure (Loeb-Leopold) pits two loonies with Napoleon complexes against society, one imagines he’s a rumrunner evading police bullets, the other has great birds in his stuffed collection, they are brash and quiet respectively, millionaires’ sons, a class ahead in school, a law unto themselves.

A trial brings out instant condemnation and a riposte from the defense. Sick children ought to be hanged because they are rich? No, says the defense attorney hired as “a manipulator of juries”.

A judge hears the case.


Crack in the Mirror

How the other half lives, cp. The Captain’s Paradise (dir. Anthony Kimmins).

The main point of construction is undoubtedly The Life of Emile Zola (dir. William Dieterle) for the author’s defense.

The brutal horror of the murder serves to mask very slightly a derivation from Wilder’s Witness for the Prosecution, to serve an analytical turn.

Howard Thompson of the New York Times simply could not follow this masterpiece, “misfires coldly and rather hollowly”. Variety, “audience interest and emotional involvement are put to a severe test.” Mark Deming (Rovi), “ambitious drama.” Halliwell’s Film Guide, “pointless... relentlessly boring.”



The question he asks is, “why doesn’t God make himself plain?” Saint Peter administers the mystic wisdom that his striving is knowledge. Thereunto is he spared for the sulfur mines, the arena and the cross. The symbolism is arranged out of Lagerkvist as an analysis of the Divina Commedia wherein the protagonist is tacitly identified with Cain. This accounts for the structure and conception of Fry’s screenplay with its fine poetic points.

Barabbas binds his own eyes against the darkness and fumes of the pit, takes to the killing in Roman games, “a man can understand this.” Fleischer films a hilarion of a gladiator, thrice-freed and a favorite of the crowd, who masks his fear in a face of triumphant joy with the actor’s tool of a preparatory false laugh, and whose death before the disloyal spectators is most pathetic. The scene is filmed, amid so many extraordinary set inventions, with a view of the arena floor and the seats and open niches along the top of the arena wall, each bearing a statue. The gods are dimly seen at a great distance, as the gladiatorial combat turns, they move distinctly into frame, just so.

Barabbas is “The Acquitted”, a point of law ordains the saving of his life, he meets Lazarus and vainly quizzes him, Christianity is a trick, he has no gods. “Of the earth earthy,” a splendid part for Anthony Quinn. Jack Palance is the terrible opponent, Vittorio Gassman a Christian martyr, Norman Wooland a Senator, Ernest Borgnine a Christian sub rosa at the gladiator school, Harry Andrews St. Peter, Arthur Kennedy Pontius Pilate, Valentina Cortese the Senator’s wife, etc.

Barabbas is drunk while his former mistress (Silvana Mangano) tells the townsmen of Jerusalem her faith, he passes by her body down in the great slough where they have stoned her en masse on the following day, dismissive and aloof. In his cups he roars at her listeners, “She doesn’t know the difference between what’s real and what she dreams.”

And when it came time some years later to arrange Tora! Tora! Tora!, Kurosawa signed against Sir David Lean who couldn’t, and thus was formed briefly in Zanuck’s mind a picture by Fleischer and Kurosawa, who bowed out because the other man was no Lean.


Fantastic Voyage

In some spurts of filmic satire this was conceived along the lines of microcinematography adapted to drama. The Incredible Shrinking Man as a spiritual phenomenon injected into the struggle for existence.

The essentially poetic nature of Fleischer’s successful and still undervalued masterpiece is derived from a reverential exagmination of Jack Arnold’s film, which created the army in Gen. Carter’s bottle cap. The Proteus is evidently kin to the Seaview (cueing a thematic relationship to John Sturges’ Ice Station Zebra), but the actual basis of Fantastic Voyage is Huston’s The African Queen.

A map of the affections in which the conversion of blood cells to oxygenation is vital, the turbulence of the heart must be stilled, the lungs are a giant Cave of the Winds that replenish the submersible’s flotation tank, the lymphatic system a Sargasso, the inner ear a place where dropped objects create great sounds imperiling the voyage into the brain, “inside the mind”, the enemy is a blood clot obscuring the soul which makes itself known in lacrimæ rerum.

The Arnoldian conjunction of outer and inner space is eloquently stated in the script and shown in the honeycomb glass base, exactly like the Palomar lens, on which the miniaturization takes place. The combination of set design and a Méliès troupe of special effects makes for not only one of the most beautiful works of art on the screen, but one that gives Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (just filming at this time) a run for its money in forms of infinite variety.


Doctor Dolittle

The tale of a village doctor whose sister propels him, like The Baron in the Trees, out of his line.

The great veterinarian can speak with all the animals save one, the well-bred Englishwoman who does not know her own mind. Because he is a genius, more is added unto him, the two-headed llama or pushmi-pullyu sent to him by his Red Indian friend Long Arrow in Tibet.

With this creature on exhibit thrice daily in Blossom’s Circus for the wonderment and admiration of all, Dolittle has it in mind to finance an expedition after the Great Pink Sea Snail...

It is the masterpiece of the age, difficult as it is, for there is the part of charm in difficulty that it wrests good sense out of nonsense.

Many a film has disappeared from sight over critics’ heads and even the good sensible heads of the great wide noble public, but here is a rare instance of one so lofty only its feet could be admired, or not.


The Boston Strangler

Fleischer’s masterwork of masterworks springs from a Rod Serling teleplay for The Twilight Zone called “Nothing in the Dark” (dir. Lamont Johnson) in which an old woman in a tenement faces Death and demolition. The Boston Strangler is in two broad movements each in two parts made of many small dramatic increments, some so tiny they are isolated as fragments on a dark screen, but the absolute unitary identifying structure governs the whole film and defines its two main characters as two-sided or two-faced, mirrors of each other and an essential nullity. These are the strangler Albert DeSalvo (Tony Curtis), a family man and furnace repairman diagnosed as a split personality, “two separate people”, introduced in the second half, and John S. Bottomly (Henry Fonda), an administrative lawyer for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts who works on eminent domain and is first seen rehearsing a speech on his effectiveness in overcoming public opposition, the Attorney General assigns him to create a Strangler Bureau in the first half.

“Nothing in the Dark” prophesies the end of Serling’s medium, television. The old woman is deceived by a wounded police officer into opening her door, he whisks her into oblivion. DeSalvo is collapsed by bringing to bear the two halves of his personality, so that recognizing himself he becomes catatonic. Bottomly reveals himself much more slowly in his handling of the case. DeSalvo experiences sexual pleasure and satisfaction in the act of murder, he acts this out in the final scene as a long-lens close-up. Bottomly accepts his new assignment under protest (“I like eminent domain”), especially at the order to coordinate various police jurisdictions in a single unit, he distrusts “centralized authority”.

The working detectives of the Boston police on their own roust every pervert they can find, their natural assumption based on experience as well as evidence in this case is that a homosexual is the culprit. Bottomly ignores the Criminal side of the investigation for the Medical and Psychiatric, he follows and dismisses leads based on his intuition and understanding, homosexual æsthetics cannot in his view identify the suspect, nor introverted masochism, Don Juanism, nor even a direct reference to Cukor’s A Double Life involving the “messianic delusion” of a player who marries in the morning and attacks his wife in the afternoon, feeling “omnipotent”. He rejects the obvious conclusion drawn from the murder of a graduate student writing a thesis on “Factors Pertaining to the Etiology of Male Homosexuality” and stumbles on DeSalvo already in custody. No charges are pressed, the suspect is committed for observation under Commonwealth law.

Fleischer’s unfame spread to Japan, where Kurosawa disdained to share Tora! Tora! Tora! with him rather than Lean. No-one should have expected less from Fleischer after Barabbas, but even at the end of his life’s work when he directed Red Sonja in direct emulation of Lang’s Die Nibelungen, no-one noticed (Renata Adler of the New York Times told her readers to avoid The Boston Strangler, Ebert saw tasteless entertainment but not art, Variety thought it was tasteful and well done).

The models for composition are many. Lang’s M appears in the contraposition of perverts en masse and security-minded females, Hitchcock’s The Lodger goes into this film and comes out as Frenzy and Family Plot (a typical Hitchcock courtesy), still more are direct images from Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, single images with dramatic overtones like the masochist’s bedsprings that in “Triumph” (dir. Harvey Hart) connote widowerhood and wife-stealing, the nudes in “Isabel” (dir. Alf Kjellin), complex treatments like “The Creeper” (dir. Herschel Daugherty).

The fictional materials that Fleischer presents were raw facts to critics at the time, George Voskovec plays Peter Hurkos, for example, who psychically pinpoints with astonishing accuracy the masochist, a police suspect among many others.

The first image on the dark screen is a television screen displaying the Mercury astronauts in a Boston parade, the scene lightens to show an elderly victim’s apartment ransacked carelessly by the strangler. The second half opens with DeSalvo watching the Kennedy funeral procession on television at home, the caisson is identified by a broadcast voice as the one used for FDR. DeSalvo “shows respect” by watching, his mood is somber, he goes out to fix a furnace and instead murders a woman who is also watching the funeral on television.



The revolutionary leader whose name and portrait animate crowd scenes in documentary footage under the title and end credits is shown in two phases of his career. Fleischer constructs this with a distancing effect of witnesses addressing the camera, his manner of filming is rather desultory for the same reason, he is honest and dispassionate about his subject, his history has its own lines to depict.

Che is instrumental in the Cuban revolution as army leader in a “people’s war” by the book he himself wrote, Guerilla Warfare. He leaves the people behind in Bolivia for a staging operation in the Communist revolution.

Omar Sharif and Jack Palance are a duet of actors treated with supreme artistry in this method. The equitable constant is a matter of style agreeably satirized as the foundation-stone of Woody Allen’s Bananas, a film that is every bit as serious in its understanding.

The point is lightly sketched by Fleischer just at the end, not the goatherd played by Frank Silvera for once almost unrecognizably (and prepared by aerial shots of mountainous terrain earlier on), but dwindling down from the romance and heroics and political mumbo-jumbo to a mere gangster’s funeral.

This impressive style of filmmaking, unique to Fleischer and invented by him for this film, was not appreciated by film critics at the time, Fleischer had become too abstruse for them although he makes it plain in truth, if we are to call Vincent Canby a film critic.


Tora! Tora! Tora!

The first thing is, a destroyer spots a sub and sinks it. Planes roar in, fighters, dive bombers, torpedo bombers, a typical bombing raid by an Axis power. The harbor is given a shellacking, no significant defense is mounted.

The military and diplomatic situation is laid out for the camera in plain scenes of historical fact, only the battle breaks the reigning quiet.

Fox let Kurosawa go after two weeks of filming, or he withdrew, by dint of his Stroheim maneuvers, or because David Lean was promised. Fleischer and Kurosawa met twice to discuss the screenplay, which by report was the length of Nabokov’s Lolita script in its Japanese sequences alone, “big as a phone book” (Kubrick).

Nabokov tells us that he found nothing of interest in the Hollywood Hills while hunting there for butterflies during his stay, yet not many miles away along the coast are some of the rare, tiny, exquisite blue butterflies in the common family of his special interest, such as the El Segundo Blue (Euphilotes battoides allyni).

This writer has observed the Palos Verdes Blue (Glaucopsyche lygdamus palosverdesensis), sometimes called the rarest butterfly in existence, feeding on thistles and wild mustard at the top of Fern Canyon Nature Trail (the outdoor “theater”) in Griffith Park (April 7, 2013).

Some critics have reviled the film as beneath Kurosawa’s dignity in absentia. Fleischer is almost certainly right that Kurosawa was “miscast”, the material is treated only later with Rhapsody in August, a film little understood by American critics (precisely like so many of Fleischer’s).

The battle is not dramatically filmed but after the manner of documentary films such as Ford’s Midway, tempered by Fleischer’s successfully coordinated ability to give a representation of the event by means of location shooting on Oahu.


10 Rillington Place

The Christie murders, with a special vantage point reserved behind the camera for the mystery of murder from the daily occurrence in the ken of one and all, not the inflamed psychopath who mows down a schoolyard or a school, nor the crime passionel nor lawless brigandage, but the killer by reason of infamy.

How like a critic is Christie, polite and gentle in his Metropolitan Police (War Reserve) uniform, with a cup of tea and one or two five-shilling words, he comes to heal the sick in body and mind, a bit of the gas and the rope and they’re planted in his garden or the would-be landlord’s crawlspace, tamped down, wallpapered over.

And half the tale is the young Welshman done to death by the State for ever kowtowing to such an imposition. One critic complained that the man was a simpleton insufficiently portrayed as such, however the point is made.

Another considered the crimes inadequately motivated, and since everything must be spelled out for critics, Don Siegel came along later that same year to have Dirty Harry say what Fleischer shows, “he likes it.”


The Last Run

Why the hobbyist won’t do, in his garage workshop.

The long chances are that an assassination “with motorcycles in front and behind” doesn’t come off, and you’re left holding the bag. Your technique, your getaway car, just serves to foil the silencers aimed at that other utensil, the assassin.

But that’s as far as it goes.

Critics have always said they don’t understand this.


See No Evil

Blind Terror in England. American boots and toys and telly violence stride through the namby-pamby land, till there’s only a blind girl and the boy next door whose chauffeur wears the offending footgear with a shotgun, gypsies are thought responsible at first.

That’s all there is to it, yet critics were all at sea.

Fleischer plays the fool, gives Hitchcock a start on Frenzy, and leaves the absolute satire bare, so that even an English critic can’t miss it.

Elmer Bernstein lends Billy the Kid (Copland) to the killer with the starry boots.


The New Centurions

One minute at the Academy, and a shift in Pottersville that begins with a quarrel and a “divorce”. Picking up prostitutes, etc.

New Rome, an old conceit, cp. Roman Scandals (dir. Frank Tuttle). A Roman’s quietus. “The heaviest hooker in town.”

A new perspective, an impossible situation. This is the overall structure of Welles’ Citizen Kane and a very fine gloss.

Roger Greenspun of the New York Times, “intermittently exciting, sometimes preachy, sometimes ironic, occasionally successful”. Variety, “a somewhat unsatisfying film... paradoxical philosophy.” Time Out, “a hack adaptation of Joseph Wambaugh's novel. TV Guide, “more of a police recruiting picture than a drama.” Paul Brenner (Rovi), “rancid veneer”. Halliwell’s Film Guide, “well done within its limits.”


Soylent Green

A talentless age faultlessly conveyed, Fleischer’s technique itself an exacerbation of nightmare in its skill beyond perfection. A blunt, unsophisticated age that feeds cattle to cattle, its superannuated constituents are ground up for insipid feed.

This could not be understood at the time, nor at any time since. The comparison is to Dreyer’s Vampyr for the nightmare style, Fleischer is lavish in the understatement of craft, unnoticeably jump-cutting in the dinner scene, adding no emphasis, mocking the ablest technicians by his ease and calm in the most prodigious scenes, where Dreyer has prodigies of technique to instill his sense of awe.

The dead are ushered away in sight of filmed nature with their favorite music, their favorite color. Garbage trucks collect them (a “human junk heap”, Dr. Ludwig Frankenstein calls his father’s creation in Kenton’s The Ghost of Frankenstein). Directors of the corporation live well above the herd, “much reality” is no longer available even to them.

The famine of the end times shall be for the word of God, it is said, and obliquely hinted here. The screenplay is vigorous in the visible, apparent drama (Det. Thorn finds the conveyor belt of soylent green chips made incontrovertibly of people, he rolls his body over them when discovered) but exactly complements the taciturnity of Fleischer’s style on this point, swelling the nightmare.

The actors have the same breadth of technique, Edward G. Robinson’s masterful portrayal of an old man elicited one critic’s pity and alarm. Brock Peters as the chief of detectives and Charlton Heston as Thorn act out the crime-drama in the chief’s office with more skill and quiet amid the catastrophe than seems warranted or even possible. Leigh Taylor-Young returns to a time before time, not the pose of innocence but a general abstraction of feeling.

The counterpart, in Blake’s terms, to Sagal’s The Omega Man as bread or art to wine or prayer.


The Don Is Dead

Roman history permeates the film, which describes a triumvirate and a Punic War of sorts, from the vantage point of He Walked By Night (dir. Alfred L. Werker).

“Business comes first,” says one of the triumvirs to a junior partner. As August Wilson in Fences put it, “now I thought he was mad cause I ain’t done my work. But I see where he was chasing me off so he could have the gal for himself.”

Rio Bravo figures in the opening sequence of an ambushed dope deal, but Hawks is stood on his head to set the scene, just as Coppola is turned around on a trip to Naples succinctly.

What can’t be misplaced is Fleischer’s awesome precision. His camera movements are like no others, they move with sureness and end as it were locked in place.

Everything is so tight, contained and laconic that the superb performances reveal themselves in subtle movements as well, and Fleischer only grants himself a couple of shots with lyrical grandeur, a desert view outside Las Vegas and a unique view of the Bay of Naples, for relief.

Jerry Goldsmith is quite well aware this is a masterpiece, and responds accordingly. The critics are not, and have not.


The Spikes Gang

The Biblical constraints (prodigal son, David and the shewbread) parallel with the action early on set up the horrible tale of collusion with the enemy of man, played richly up to the hilt on originals that include, for example, Forbes’ King Rat.

A vivid sense of juvenile consciousness in this viewpoint gives the alternative say of Harry Spikes, who is an old hand at the business.

Canby of the New York Times thought, incredibly, there was nothing in it.


Mr. Majestyk

Mr. Majestyk (Charles Bronson) is a farmer and a fair-minded man. Democracy pretty much means to him that if he can use the rest room, why not you? So it’s not exactly orneriness that makes him resent mobsters putting their own pickers on his farm.

In fact, he’s really sweet-tempered. He stops to make a phone call, and the woman behind the counter is a really avid reader of books, he gives her a smile of genuine affinity, he raises melons, he understands vegetal life.

Still and all, he’s very peeved to see his melons picked by strangers overseen with a sound truck and a shotgun. It looks like the road gang in Cool Hand Luke. So he takes the shotgun, blasts the loudspeaker off the truck, and sends the mob packing.

In jail, he’s carted off with a very important hoodlum, whose gang stages a daylight raid to free their boss. Mr. Majestyk drives the prison bus to safety, is nearly killed by the deceitful and ungrateful hood, and walks himself back to jail.

Now, this hoodlum (Al Lettieri) happens to be the very man running the racket muscling in on Mr. Majestyk, and one thing he won’t stand for is a melon farmer giving him the business, so he runs the night watchman down in his Rent-A-Throne and machine-guns the melons in the barn. And this is where the story really begins.

Expertly filmed by Fleischer, really superb color cinematography, action sequences, gags, etc. The cast carry it off beautifully, Lee Purcell as the hoodlum’s mistress, Alejandro Rey as a Majestyk ally, Linda Cristal even more, Paul Koslo as a mean little henchman, Frank Maxwell as the local constable, and Richard Erdman as Dick Richard.

The cool, clear-cut realism of this is a most admirable quality of style suited to an ultimate despot crushing the small farmer literally against the wall, until the very last limit is reached and he fights his way back into the very lair of the demon, whom he dispatches handily.


The Incredible Sarah

Between Buster Keaton in Le Roi des Champs-Elysées (dir. Max Nosseck) and Richard Burton in Prince of Players (dir. Philip Dunne), Bernhardt’s youthful career, The Young Sarah (Walters’ The Barkleys of Broadway).

Variety’s guarded review was shortsighted, the New York Times’ (“foolishly romantic”) absurd.

Contemporary posters fitted with the star’s image as endpapers pay a proper tribute to the genius of the production.


Red Sonja

Fritz Lang’s early silent films, particularly Die Nibelungen and Der Müde Tod, are the basis of Fleischer’s work. He confines himself entirely to the métier of Lang, and the only real difference is the color stock. Thus, you have the spectacle of Fritz Lang in color.

This is what gives the images their peculiar beauty. When Sonja and Kalidor fight in the green forest carpeted with leaves, the primeval light in the background is Lang’s.

From this predisposition of cinematic terms, Fleischer has educed a heroine with the ferocity of Judith, the wisdom of Mary and the beauty of Susannah. Her charge is a little prince whose kingdom is reduced to one sole retainer, loyal and unremittingly patient, with the advent of an evil queen whose power derives from an invidious and glowing green stone.

Morricone’s score is a great accoutrement.


Million Dollar Mystery

Fate of a man with more payola than he can handle (opening credits). Visitors to Apache Acres, a roadhouse in the Grand Canyon State. Government pursuit. “It’s pronounced Buzzárd.”

Fleischer’s sendup of the ultraserious Eighties (“is that some sort o’ code name?”) takes on the structure of Kramer’s It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World to put things in better perspective, a daring maneuver but of the funniest (cf. Michael Winner’s You Must Be Joking!). The leads are unknowns, everyone else is on the treadmill to success...

Hal Hinson of the Washington Post, “ignore it and maybe it will go away.” Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times), “I have no idea where the money is hidden.” As the proprietor of Apache Acres observes, “this guy has obviously worn out his Rambo videotape,” next year came A Fish Called Wanda (dir. Charles Crichton). Bad Boris and Awful Abdul. A Jewish honeymoon passim.

On the El Puente Bridge, the anagram gag in Tom Stoppard’s Travesties for a complicated poem on love and war and cholesterol. In El Puente proper, a display of style even more laborious than a Village Voice film review, “I get one good idea in twenty years and the guy turns out to be from Bozoland,” design gone south, the new Smokey, cp. L’Ainé des Ferchaux (dir. Jean-Pierre Melville).

On Lake Powell, goldfish architecture and video games, “what in the holy hell is he doin’ with a paper shredder this big?”

Eah, he worked for the government, didn’t he?” Cp. The Gumball Rally (dir. Chuck Bail). “Read my lips, people, nobody move!” A border drug bust out of Brooks & Henry’s Get Smart. A Red Chinese tour bus. A marathon winner.

London Bridge (Lake Havasu City), a golden shower for the British. Dottie’s choice, the best of both worlds. “You don’t know Bruce?”

The satirical ad campaign, worthy of William Castle and just as disprized, aimed at promotional tie-ins (cp. Spaceballs, dir. Mel Brooks) by giving out clues in boxes of Glad Bags leading to the undiscovered fourth million, according to report in the bridge of the nose of the Statue of Liberty...