Tuesday, August 05, 2014


A World-Wind Tour bus leaves London for a 2-week trip through Europe with a bunch of American tourists. Of course, most of them are comic variations on the "Ugly American" stereotypes: Murray Hamilton is a grouser who constantly complains that things aren't like they are back home; his teenage daughter (Hilary Thompson) is looking for a cute boy to spend time with; Norman Fell's wife (Reva Rose) accidentally winds up on a different tour and he spends all his time trying to contact her; Marty Ingels takes pictures of sexy native women, intending to tell his buddies back home that he slept with all of them; Michael Constantine is a war vet revisiting old sites; Sandy Baron is looking forward to visiting relatives in Italy, unaware that they're ready to marry him off to a cousin. The main plotline involves Suzanne Pleshette, a lovely young single woman who seems vaguely dissatisfied with her fiancé; the handsome English tour guide (Ian McShane) wants to add her to his long list of erotic conquests, but through a series of comic misadventures, she remains mostly aloof until they begin to develop real feelings for each other. Then who should show up but her well-meaning but whitebread fiancé.

Having been released in 1969, this comedy is awkwardly situated between old and new; the stereotypes are obvious, much of the humor is dated, and few of the characters or situations are surprising, but with the swinging single tour guide, the movie tries to be hip, and the plotline involving the teenage daughter is totally 60s: she and the moderately cute political agitator she hooks up with (Luke Halpin, star of TV's Flipper) travel about and visit a youth hostel—in which 60s icon Donovan strums guitar and sings the gloomy, folky "Lord of the Reedy River." (He also wrote the cute title song but does not sing it.) Though the film was shot on location—Rome, Brussels, Amsterdam, Venice—it mostly has a drab TV-movie look. Some of the performances are pitched in a one-note TV way; particularly irritating are Fell, Constantine and Ingels. But the young McShane (pictured with Pleshette) is a nice surprise, and Pleshette and Baron are very good as well. Also with Peggy Cass and Mildred Natwick, both underused. Aubrey Morris, who I know as Alex's counselor in CLOCKWORK ORANGE, has a small, almost completely silent role as a man who brings an empty piece of luggage into which he puts stolen objects from each stop. Watch all the way to the credits for a final fun scene involving Morris. There are also very brief cameos from John Cassavettes, Robert Vaughan, Vittorio De Sica, and Virna Lisi, among others. Mild fun for fans of the era. [TCM]

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