Glenn Ford (Blackboard Jungle) plays a TV writer and director who kills a blackmailer and buries him under a gazebo.
Reaction & Thoughts:
Odd black comedy only works sporadically. I liked the idea behind the film, but it didn’t work for me. Despite having a good cast, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s The Gazebo feels frantic rather than zany. Worst of all, the movie isn’t funny at all.
Directed by George Marshall (Destroy Rides Again), The Gazebo reminded me of Alfred Hitchcock’s darkly humorous Trouble with Harry (1955), which is also about a corpse causing all kinds of funny situations. Unfortunately, The Gazebo has an erratic and inconsistent tone. The film needed someone like Billy Wilder (The Apartment), who had a knack for mocking serious situations.
The Gazebo was based on Alec Coppel’s Broadway play of the same name. George Wells (Designing Woman) adapted the play. I’m assuming writer Coppel got the idea after working with Hitchcock (Coppel co-wrote Hitch’s Vertigo with Samuel Taylor). There are many Hitchcock jokes (Hitch himself makes a “cameo” appearance).
Debbie Reynolds (Singin’ in the Rain) is a complete delight as Glen Ford’s wife. Reynolds even gets to do a musical number. Carl Reiner (The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming) is quite funny as Ford’s buddy. Ford is the problem here; he isn’t funny! Ford is trying to be Jack Lemmon and it simply doesn’t work.
Herman “The Pigeon” gives the best performance, anyway. The feathery guy (or his trainer) manages to steal many scenes. The cast also includes James Gavin (Coogan’s Bluff), John McGiver (The Manchurian Candidate) and Martin Landau (North by Northwest and Ed Wood) has a small role as a thug.
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
I can’t really recommend The Gazebo, but Hitchcock aficionados may want to check this one out. It is, as far as I can tell, the very first movie to lampoon the Master of Suspense’s oeuvre. I still think you are better off watching Silver Streak (1976), High Anxiety (1977), or Foul Play (1976), all great Hitch spoofs. B&W, 100 minutes, Not Rated.