Donít Drink The Water (1969/Lionsgate)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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