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Scavenger Hunt (1979)

It’s a free for all when Vincent Price dies over the opening credits of this low brow comedy sending his money hungry relatives on a madcap race to accumulate as many strange items as they can find that have been assigned to them based on Price’s final requests.

Robert Morley serves as Price’s lawyer who overseas the contest featuring a cast of familiar faces circa 1979.

scavenger-hunt-movie-poster-1979-1020231488

With 200 million dollars at stake the heirs quickly divide up as it’s a winner take all race. Tony Randall and his children head off in search of goods including a medicine ball at a local gym where Tony runs head first into a monstrous fitness instructor. Arnold Schwarzenegger himself.

Bumbling Richard Mulligan is in on the hunt and takes off on his own. Thankfully he joins up with the always warm presence of Scatman Crothers on his journey. Scatman is one of those character players that never ceases to put a smile on my face when he appears on screen be it in Cukoo’s Nest, The Shootist or The Shining. I was surprised to see his name listed here as a contributor to the soundtrack singing “There’s Enough For Everyone” over the closing credits.

scatman

As far as Cloris Leachman, Richard Benjamin and Richard Masur are concerned there isn’t enough for everyone. This group of hunters prove to be the film’s main adversaries. They personify the greedy cliched characters. There adventures will take them from the classic safe out of a window gag to Benjamin running into a motorcycle gang led by singer Meatloaf.

The hired help team up as well. Butler Roddy McDowall, chauffeur Cleavon Little, chef James Coco and naughty french maid Stephanie Faracy. The height of their hunting involves removing a toilet from a swank hotel. Roddy and Cleavon are in fine form during the “toilet heist.”

hunt5

Lastly we have a group of youngsters led by Willie Aames. His hunt will lead to laughing gas, police uniforms and crystal balls. By the time the finale comes around they’ll all be involved in a wild police car chase culminating in a team effort to ensure the greedy group of Leachman and Benjamin come up empty handed. No surprises but it’s all justified in the end.

Coming off a selection of Richard Pryor titles and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, director Michael Schultz does his best with the juvenile script at hand to bring us a few laughs though many are of the strained variety. Schultz is still at it today directing television fare such as episodes of Arrow.

hunt lobby card

While the film cannot compare to It’s a Mad World it does have that feeling about it so perhaps the comedy classic served as an inspiration to this similarly themed idea.

I often refer to both Vincent Price and Roddy McDowall as “friends” so it does offer a chance to see them both together in the same film. Unfortunately Vincent doesn’t really do much other then serving as the instigator of the plot. They first appeared in the same film together way back in 1944’s The  Keys of the Kingdom.

Many of the funny bits come from the Leachman-Benjamin-Masur trio. Greedy as they may be the comedy routines delivered slowly grew on me as I caught myself grinning in spite of the low brow humor. Benjamin would star in a much larger box office hit the same year as this release when he paired with George Hamilton in Love At First Bite.

hunt randal and arnld

No classic here but if you get involved with a Scavenger Hunt with the assignment to find a movie featuring Ruth Gordon, an Ostrich, a toiled bowl and Arnold Schwarzenegger then this is the title you’ll need to find.

I don’t believe this one is out on DVD so a trusty old VHS machine may be you’re only hope to catch this title.

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