In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_dont_breathe

Don't Breathe

Don’t Breathe gets a little less interesting as it proceeds to its inevitable conclusion, but it works so well up to that point that your…

Thumb_southside_with_you

Southside With You

Southside with You builds its emotional richness by coasting on the charisma of its two leads as they carefully navigate each other’s personality quirks and…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives

Reviews

Fitzwilly

Fitzwilly Movie Review
  |  

"Fitzwilly" is a pleasant family comedy about a butler who brings Gimbel's to a halt on Christmas Eve. Since this is Christmas Day (and a Merry Christmas to all our readers) I thought you might enjoy reading how it was done.



The trick is to station bell ringing Santas, carol singing Cub Scouts and package bearing matrons at all the exits to the store. Then you deploy last-minute shoppers inside, counting on them to elbow each other into a state of near riot. You assign two or three men to circulate counter-clockwise through the crowd, poking people, and two or three other operatives to circulate clockwise, dropping things that other people will stumble over. And then you stop the escalators.

If you are like me and do your shopping on Christmas Eve this will sound like a sworn statement on the actual condition in every store in the Loop. But there are probably people who do all their Christmas shopping in November, and for them "Fitzwilly" may seem to exaggerate.

The butler is Dick Van Dyke, and he attacks Gimbel's as part of a long-term effort to keep his elderly employer (Dame Edith Evans) living in the style to which she is accustomed. The old lady's millionaire husband left her without a cent. But her loyal staff has been shoplifting and hijacking ever since to keep up appearances.

A student from Columbia University (Barbara Feldon) is hired as Dame Edith's secretary. She must have been attending the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, because she can't spell. That's OK, because Dame Edith is writing a dictionary in which all the incorrect spellings of words will be listed.

Events develop in a whimsical fashion, as Miss Feldon gradually discovers the larceny underfoot and gradually falls in love with Van Dyke. There is a retired minister (John McGiver) to add a note of wistful guilt to the undertakings, but the gang isn't really doing anything wrong, is it? After all, the loot is covered by insurance and the old lady gives all her money to charity.

One of the delights of "Fitzwilly" is the generally intelligent language in which the characters talk to each other, as if they were educated and witty. Most movie characters talk to each other as if they were refugees from "Get Smart!" (which Miss Feldon is, by the way). Van Dyke is droll as usual, Miss Feldon has some bright moments, and Dame Edith Evans even steals one scene in which she doesn't appear. Van Dyke announces Miss Feldon, and she shouts through a closed door: "Hurrah!"



Popular Blog Posts

Hollywood Gave Up on You: The Summer Movies of 2016

A look back at how this summer's best offering, Netflix's "Stranger Things," makes the failure of this season's block...

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Dirty Politics May Ruin Distribution, Oscar Chances of Phenomenal "Aquarius"

Pablo Villaça reports on the sad status of Brazil's government and its possible effect on a phenomenal new film from ...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus