Foul Play

Foul Play
Foul Play

We enjoyed this outing from early in the careers of both Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase. It’s a strange movie, with a schizophrenic attitude that’s hard to place. Foul Play tells the story of a lonely librarian and a police detective who fall in love as they try to uncover the assassination plot in which the librarian has become entangled. Some thoughts:

  • The early parts of the film feel very Hitchcockian, with mysterious corpses turning up and vanishing, evil albinos hiding in libraries, and so on.
  • But as the film goes on, it gets this strange injection of humor that seems completely out of character for the earlier film. As the movie ended, we decided that two scripts, one a classic thriller drawn on early spy movies like The 39 Steps or The Man Who Knew Too Much, the other a Zucker brothers parody of the same.
  • In the more serious vein, there are some pretty intense chase sequences and some startling moments. In the other, we have a cackling snake, an old-man versus old-woman rumble in the living room, dirty old ladies playing Scrabble, and the senseless beating of a dwarf.
  • Given the early banter between Chase and Hawn, I expected the Chase character to be a bit more Fletch than he ended up being. Oh well. There were some amusing bumbles anyhow.
  • How come albinos always end up being henchmen in movies? I can only think of three other albinos in movies (offhand): the keeper of the cave of doom in The Princess Bride (henchman), the tall assassin in The Untouchables (henchman, but perhaps not an albino), and the kid in Powder (not a henchman).
  • I was trying to decide if a moment in the non-PC 1970s film was racist or not. Two elderly Japanese people ended up in the back of the car being driven crazily through the San Fransisco streets. Once they figured out CC was a cop (“Kojack, bang! bang!”), they thought it was a riot. They laughed uproariously and waved American flags. Admittedly, they caricatured Japanese-ness, but their particular ethnicity fit because the sequence was cross-cut with a production of The Mikado and the extra-digetic chase music drew on that opera for its themes. One could also suggest a diegetic logic for Japanese tourists to be present, as San Francisco (and California in general) are a big draw for Japanese tourists. Finally, I feel like ANY non-English speaking old people could have fit a similar niche for humor. These reasons aside, I still felt a little askew about the scene.
  • I need to see some more Burgess Meredith movies.

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