All this month I will be highlighting Disney movies on my Tumblr page, via twitter and on this blog making it a Disney December. To me, the holidays are all about family and magic something which the Disney brand has defined more than any other studio or content creator. I don't think there is any other brand out there that is as strong as the Disney one, not to mention that anyone who has ever been to Disneyland (or World) during the holiday season knows that it is the best time of the year to go.
A good friend of mine - as well as the curator of probably THE best movie blog on the web - Rupert Pupkin, has provided me with this guest post of his thoughts on the Disney Movie Never a Dull Moment starring Dick Van Dyke.
This week marks the Blu-ray release of Mary Poppins (December 10) which coincides not only with the film's 50th anniversary (which is really next year, but we're in December so close enough) as well as the theatrical release of Saving Mr. Banks (December 17). It only seems fitting to kick off the week with a post highlighting another Disney film that starred Dick Van Dyke.
I like Rupert was weaned on Disney films because my family not only assumed (correctly) that they were safe for my young eyes and mind, but because we all enjoyed them as well. I also remember watching this movie as a youth, and revisited it in 2007 when I came across the DVD at my local library. Oh yes and I also have to admit I loved those clamshell boxes as well.
Rupert originally wrote this for the Forgotten Films blog in 2012 and has generously allowed me to reprint it here.
You can follow Rupert on Twitter at @bobfreelander - and you should because the man knows how to tweet about movies in the most exciting and positive way. You'll always come away each day with new things that you have to watch or re-watch.
You can read his blog HERE.
A link to the Forgotten Films Blog is HERE.
A link to the original post on that blog is HERE.
Oh and a link to my Tumblr page for Disney December love all month long is HERE.
Growing up as I did in the late 70s and early 80s, I was indoctrinated into movies in large part via home video. My family started out with a Betamax player and eventually graduated to VHS. Our video store of choice was also our local grocery store. They had a wonderful selection of Disney films there. And we rented pretty much ALL of them. From Darby O’Gill and the Little People to Bedknobs and Broomsticks to The Love Bug films and The Devil and Max Devlin. I recall all those clamshells fondly. One of the early ones I recall seeing was Never a Dull Moment. It starred Dick Van Dyke and Dorothy Provine (who I had first seen in That Darn Cat) as well as many other actors I didn’t know at the time (Edward G. Robinson, Henry Silva, Slim Pickens and Tony Bill among others).
Van Dyke plays a two-bit tv actor who is mistaken for a big time hit man from out of town by the name of Ace Williams (played by the amazing Jack Elam). He’s taken to the mansion hideout of a gangster named Leo Smooth (Robinson) and brought in on Smooth’s plan to pull off one last big art heist. Hilarity ensues as our hero tries play the role of the hardened killer whilst all the while trying to find a way to escape the mansion.
As with all of these live-action Disney features from my youth, we watched them over and over and over. Though I had come to know Dick Van Dyke best through his role in Mary Poppins, this quickly became and remains my favorite role of his. His portrayal of ‘Jack Albany: crummy actor truly stands up against anything he’s ever done as far as I’m concerned. The character allows for a sort of ‘meta’ scenario where Albany puts his acting skills to the most important use, the preservation of his own life. And make no mistake, Albany is a coward through and through, which makes him quite entertaining. An early scene shows Albany (fronting as Ace Williams) introduced to another hit man played by Henry Silva. They have a short stand-off during a handshake that is rather humorous and sets up Van Dyke’s character quite well. Throughout the film, there is plenty of that trademark Van Dyke slapstick as well.
Let’s talk about Dorothy Provine for a second. In a word: adorable. Her career is an interesting and varied one. She seemed to be primarily a TV actress starting in the late 50s. Her one early feature, The Bonnie Parker Story is quite worthwhile and I know Quentin Tarantino is a fan. She also starred in another QT favorite, Kiss the Girls and Make them Die which is a spoofy spy thriller from the mid 60s (also worth tracking down). And last but not least (for me anyway) she was in the wonderful Who’s Minding the Mint? which is a favorite old 60s comedy for me. Anyway, she’s her usual spunky, charming self in Never a Dull Moment and I think my crush on her started here.
All in all it’s a truly sad thing for me that this film has pretty much disappeared into obscurity, but for fans of the actors involved and Disney comedies in general, it is absolutely worth digging this one out.