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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Politics > Cold War > Donít Drink The Water (1969/Lionsgate)

Donít Drink The Water (1969/Lionsgate)

 

Picture: C+†††† Sound: C†††† Extras: D†††† Film: C

 

 

As the TV sitcom became big business putting the medium on the map, feature films tried to see if they could use their big screens and color films to draw that audience to theaters, so a cycle of comedies playing the sitcom start system resulted, ending with a bomb in the Lucille Ball Mame in 1974.Even comedies without TV stars might have some of that talent behind the scenes (see The Gay Deceivers elsewhere on this site) and the results are a long series of often forgotten films that are usually forgettable.

 

Howard Morris directed Donít Drink The Water (1969) from a play by the up and coming Woody Allen, but Take The Money & Run this is not, playing more like a dry run of Allenís later his Bananas (1973) than something with edge, though one wonders how much the original material may have been altered to fit stars Jackie Gleason, Ted Bessell (from That Girl) and a good cast that includes Estelle Parsons, Michael Constantine, Joan Delaney, Howard St. John, Avery Schreiber and Phil Leeds.

 

The set up involves an all-American family (Gleason, Parsons, Delaney) accidentally diverted behind the Iron Curtain on a plane flight to Europe.Mom just has to have some pictures, but the East Bloc military suspects they are spies and chases them to the limousine of a U.S. official (Bessell) who drives to there to save them.It quickly becomes a trap and they have to deal with paranoid officials for their survival and other lunacy.

 

Though The Cold War is over, the film has aged poorly by just being more routine like a TV sitcom than a comedy with any edge, though the producers were hoping for a safer Dr. Strangelove of some kind.The result instead is a curio worth a look, but one that never adds up like it should or later Allen works just started to.It deserves to be out on DVD and reminds us in particular how too soon we lost Bessell.

 

The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image has some good color, but the print can have some minor flaws and depth limits.I would enjoy seeing this on Blu-ray and the PathťColor has its moments.The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is flatter and sounds worn down a bit, though the score by Patrick Williams is not bad.He is best known for his great work on The Mary Tyler Moore and Bob Newhart Show in the 1970s.There are no extras.

 

 

-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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