Anytime I have the opportunity to see Henry Silva, Jack Elam and Slim Pickens under the direction of Edward G. Robinson tormenting Dick Van Dyke is what I like to call “time well spent”.
That’s just what we get in this release through the Disney organization.
Dick stars here as a bit part actor usually relegated to gangster roles who winds up being mistaken for the real thing. A cold blooded killer that Eddie G. and company have sent for sight unseen. Realizing he’s in over his head, Dick plays along looking for a chance to make a quick exit.
It doesn’t get easy when he meets the gang. Henry Silva would like nothing better than to take over from Van Dyke as the number one killer in the syndicate. Cowboy actor Pickens is “The fastest tommy gun in the west”.
We also get familiar faces Richard Bakalyan, Tony Bill and the always lovable Mickey Shaughnessy rounding out Robinson’s gang of art thieves.
Silva plays these roles so perfectly and it’s a delight to see him acting tough conveying a real threat while Dick is doing his best to keep the cold blooded act up when facing off against Henry.
To see Eddie planning an art heist is fitting for a man who was one of the art world’s great supporters and collectors during his lifetime. There’s a wonderful scene where he reminisces about the early days in the thirties of being a gangster in his prime. The part has most assuredly been designed around his film career and interest in art.
Complicating things for Dick is the presence of Dorothy Provine, an innocent bystander who becomes aware of the gang’s plot. She is subsequently marked for death. Top that off with the arrival of the real killer that Dick has been mistaken for. None other than Mr. Jack Elam.
Actor – Director Jerry Paris is the man behind the camera here who puts long time pal Dick through the paces of trying to stay healthy while Silva, Pickens and Elam all take their best shot at our funny man. Paris worked on Van Dyke’s popular sitcom both as actor and director while also doing other series television shows like The Odd Couple.
For fans of the character actors involved here this is an easy film to like. Eddie G. and Dick Van Dyke are an added bonus. Even gangland favorite Anthony Caruso turns up for a fun intro at the films very Batman like credit sequence. I am referring to the Adam West series of the sixties.
Robinson is of course the legendary tough guy here and even in his old age it’s a pleasure to see him snarl at Tony Bill with the line”Keep your hands to yourself or I’ll take ’em away from yah.”