Foul Play (1978)

Synopsis:

A klutzy librarian, Gloria Mundy (Goldie Hawn, Private Benjamin), inadvertently becomes involved in an elaborate assassination plot. Gloria is assisted by a snarky police detective, Tony Carlson (Chevy Chase, Fletch), who is having problems of his own.

Reaction & Thoughts:

I’ve seen Foul Play a zillion times and it never gets old. This is a quirky, goofy, and hilarious comedy-mystery that still holds up fabulously well after all these years — I love its silly humor and ridiculous plot. The cast is fantastic too. Above all, I love how the movie pays homage to some of my favorite Hitchcock movies.

Reminiscent of not only Hitch’s thrillers, but also the comedy-mysteries of the 1930s, Foul Play does a great job combining mystery with slapstick and romance.

Foul Play opens with a nasty murder and this unpleasant moment is immediately followed by a comic exchange between Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase at a cocktail party. Foul Play continues to mix the yucky with the funny and that’s part of its appeal — you can’t predict what will happen next.

Foul Play marked the directorial debut of writer Colin Higgins, better known for penning the cult favorite, Harold and Maude (1972), and the Richard Pryor-Gene Wilder mega hit (another Hitchcock-like movie), the hilarious Silver Streak (1976). He is also the man behind 1980s super-hits, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and 9 to 5.

Higgins wasn’t the deepest or cleverest of filmmakers, but he knew how to make an entertaining movie. The film is jam-packed with all sorts of crazy ideas designed to make you giggle. The mid-section wobbles a bit (the movie is a bit longish), but this is a super-entertaining movie from beginning to end.

Hawn and Chase are wonderful. I’m not a Chase fan, but I really like him here. He is hilarious as a smug police detective. Hawn is a delight as the “girl-who-knew-too-much.” However, the supporting cast steals the movie. Dudley Moore (Arthur), in his American film debut, is a riot as a kinky conductor. The karate-fight between Rachel Roberts (This Sporting Life) and Burgess Meredith (Rocky) is hard to describe!

Diminutive character-actor Billy Barty (The Day of the Locust) also has a few great moments as a door-to-door salesman. And, how can anyone resist a movie that features songs by Carole King, Barry Manilow and The Bee Gees? The main song, “Ready to Take a Chance Again,” music by Charles Fox, lyrics by Norman Gimbel, and sung by Manilow, received a well-deserved Oscar-nomination.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Foul Play is escapism of the silly kind — it always manages to put a smile on my face. As I said before, the film pays homage to the Master of Suspense, so this is catnip for Hitchcock aficionados. If you know your Hitchcock trivia, you will have fun pointing out the allusions to classic films like The Man Who Knew Too Much, Rear Window, North by Northwest, etc. Color, 116 minutes, Rated PG.

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8 responses to “Foul Play (1978)

  1. Wonderful review of one of my favorites as well—Chevy and Goldie are a wonderful couple, and the plot is well constructed and this was where most of us first met the amazing Dudley Moore, who almost steals the movie. Throw in the great Brian Dennehy and brilliant character actors like Burgess Meredith and Rachel Roberts, a title song by Barry Manilow and the charms of San Francisco, and you have a perfect movie! I need to pull out my own dvd now and watch again, Eric!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, a good one! Saw it in the theater when it first came out…reminiscent of ‘fun’ Hitchcock like ‘North by Northwest’ and ‘The 39 Steps’. I found a cheap DVD somewhere but haven’t watched it yet…I’m wondering now if I should’ve picked up the Blu-ray instead. Which did you watch…or was it a VHS?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I watched my DVD copy (the screen-shots were taken directly from the Paramount DVD). Not sure about the Blu-ray, but I assure you the DVD print looks pretty good. 🙂

      Like

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