Monday, January 24, 2011

Favourite movies: Who's Minding the Mint? (1967)


I consider Who's Minding the Mint? THE 1960s comedy. Directed by that certifiable genius Howard Morris, it is fast and funny with a marvelous premise, witty lines, and sight-gags that are impeccably set-up and pulled off by a director who knows funny and a fine ensemble cast.


Walter Brennan, Jim Hutton
Shopping for a safe cracker in prison

Jim Hutton is Treasury worker Harry Lucas, a fellow who knows all the angles. After working hours he lives the life of a minor playboy on no budget by scamming department stores. A workplace superior, played with officious glee by David J. Stewart, suspects Harry of criminal methods and Harry is up against it when he accidentally loses $50,000. However, it shouldn't be too difficult to replace the lost bills with the help of retired printer "Pop" Gillis played by Walter Brennan, who aches to get his hands on the presses.


Victor Buono
"Captain"

Questions arise as to how to get the plates, how to get into the building, how to cut the bills, et cetera and before he knows what's happening Harry is the leader of a gang with designs on more than replacing $50,000. Milton Berle oozes larceny out of every pore as a self-appointed "manager". Bob Denver is adorable as a would-be ladies man teamed with Jackie Joseph as a bohemian who may be more than he can handle. Victor Buono is outstanding as an outlandishly accented "ship's captain". Joey Bishop is dry and funny as a gambler and Jamie Farr shines as his non-English speaking cousin. Pretty Dorothy Provine, the go-to gal of 60s comedy, is a nice girl who'd do anything for Harry. And what could go wrong when you have a deaf safe cracker played by Jack Gilford?

Adding to the fun is Lalo Schifrin's sprightly score reminiscent of his famous Mission Impossible theme.


Joey Bishop, Jack Gilford
What could possibly go wrong?


Victor Buono, Jack Gilford, Bob Denver, Milton Berle, Jim Hutton
The gang celebrates.
Aren't you dying to know why Berle is dressed that way?


Who's Minding the Mint? is a movie that keeps me chuckling and laughing throughout its tidy 97 minutes. I'm sure it will do the same for you.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Movie That Made Me Love Movies


Jacqueline Lynch's enlightening and informative treatise on Shane in Another Old Movie Blog has prompted today's post.

Like a lot of small-town 60s kids I went to the movies every Saturday and, contrary to accepted tradition, every Sunday I could get. Most often I attended with my sister Paula, sometimes with my friend Lynn. Our dad would take us in the evening when a new Disney release came to town. Special movies such as My Fair Lady or A Hard Day's Night required dressing up, but Saturdays were cotton shorts and shirt days. It's always summer when I look back.

It never mattered what the movie was on Saturday, it was the going to the movie that was the event. I remember catching the comedies like Donovan's Reef and Walk Don't Run and the Beach Party gang. Sometimes we'd get an amalgam of Bowery Boys flicks and serials. My favourites were the westerns. You'd think I'd get enough of them from television, but no.

My outstanding memory is of the day I saw Shane. It was a theatrical re-release, but it was a new movie to me. From the moment the movie started it drew me into a world and made me live there. I felt each character's emotions as I never had watching any other movie. I experienced Joey's awe of Shane, Marian's conflicted heart, Wilson's confidence, Ryker's frustration, Joe's realization, Torrey's bravado. I felt the rain pouring down my neck, Joey's bare feet in the yard and the bullet smashing into Torrey.

At the same time as I was experiencing the movie, another part of brain was working on why I was feeling that way. I recognized the emphasis of the music and the reasons for close-ups or not. I saw how the gate fenced Joe away from Shane and Marian. All the movie watching in my 10 or 11 years came together and opened up a new way of experiencing and appreciating film.

Time and repeat viewings have not diminished the impact and my affection for Shane, the movie that made me love movies.