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

RogerEbert.com

Thumb five acts poster

Jane Fonda in Five Acts

Director Susan Lacy has the great advantage of a subject whose life has been extensively documented literally since birth.

Thumb fahrenheit eleven nine

Fahrenheit 11/9

The messiness of Moore’s film starts to feel appropriate for the times we’re in. With a new issue being debated every day, is it any…

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.

Advertisement

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

"You Were Expecting Someone Else?" Why a Non-White James Bond is the Franchise's Logical Next Step

Not only would Idris Elba make a great James Bond, the franchise has been building towards casting an actor of color ...

Grace and Nature: On Criterion’s Release of The Tree of Life

On the new Criterion release of Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, which includes a new 50-minute-longer extended cu...

Jonah Hill, Emma Stone Star in Netflix’s Daring, Brilliant Maniac

A review of the phenomenal new Netflix show starring Jonah Hill and Emma Stone.

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

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

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus