Wednesday, March 30, 2011

THE BUSY BODY - Vic Mizzy - "The Patsy" (1968)

Not even close to being a monster, sci-fi or a spy flick, "The Busy Body" nonetheless has some major credits that just can't be ignored down here in The Dungeon! Number one, it's a William Castle film, and really, that's enough just by itself!!

"The Busy Body" is a movie that without a doubt would win the award for "Blurring the lines between all the genres, but we had to fit it in somewhere" category, and better than that, it's the epitome of wacky!!

And stacked on top of all of that like a big chunk of melting butter on a heaping stack of pancakes, "The Busy Body" also has a killer soundtrack by everybody's fave composer, Mr. "Addams Family" himself, Vic Mizzy, and it also has a cast of unforgettable comedians you're not going to ever see under one roof again in this or any other lifetime, kinda like Woodstock at a Comedy Club!

The star of the show is the incredible Sid Caesar as George Norton, a nice guy just trying to get along in life even though he's employed by mobsters! One thing I just don't understand is, why don't they make people like Sid Caesar anymore?? I'm sure you have all kinds of names of modern people to throw back at me, but I'm lost in the past, and beyond reason! Sid did like 53 episodes of "Your Show Of Shows" back in 1952 to 54, sometimes as jazz hep cat "Cool Cees" playing sax, and on the same show, sang with cohorts Carl Reiner & Howard Morris as the "The Hair Cuts." Sid, wherever you are, Man, we love you!!

In what is essentially the "Bored Room" the guys are trying to figger out how to become more legit, you know, like community oriented, but it ain't really working!

George and The Boss, Robert Ryan as Charley Barker, are going over to another board member's home, Archie Brody for a barbecue dinner. Robert Ryan turns in a particularly good performance as one rough and tumble guy, and it shouldn't come as no surprise since Robert was a boxing champion when he was in The Marines, so I think acting tough came kind of natural to him!!

George and Charley are greeted by Archie's wife, Arlene Golonka as Bobbi Brody! Arlene worked her shtick for a good 40 years, and besides being in almost every TV show ever made, she was Millie Swanson in some 35 episodes of "Mayberry R.F.D."

Bobbi's art is on display in her and Archie's apartment, and you can bet that garbage can lid is going to be put to some good use in the big chase scene at the end of the flick! Versatile prop!

Now you'll see why this flick is like a 60's comedy trivia encyclopedia, finally, here's Archie Brody, or as we always knew him, Jose Jiminez, I mean Bill Dana! In 1958 we didn't have to deal with a bunch of politically correct bullshit, and it was okay for a Jewish guy to have an act as a funny Mexican, and it worked, because people used to have a sense of humour! Archie gets a little carried away with the lighter fluid, and makes a hasty retreat to the morgue!

Here's where the rub comes in, the main storyline as it were, Archie's been mistakenly buried with a million bucks in his suit, and now it's going to be up to George to try and retrieve it! Here he's escorted to the graveyard by two more comedy heavyweights, Godfrey Cambridge and Marty Ingels! Surely I don't have to tell you about this pair of classic comedians except that Godfrey Cambridge passed away way back in 1976, and Mr. Ingels is still workin' today! What great characters! Another comedic heavy who is in the movie, but I didn't have any screencaps for, but feel obligated to mention, is Dom DeLuise as Kurt Brock!

The grave is empty, no body, no blue suit, no million dollars! The Boss is Pissed!!

William Castle starts playing his tricks, George goes to the funeral home to look for the body, and there's a funeral going on for a police officer, and the iconic George Jessel is giving a eulogy as Mr. Fessel, it's like the whole film is turning into a limerick!

My favourite gag in the whole movie is when George goes to talk to the funeral home director Mr. Merriwether, but Mr. Merriwether has been stabbed in the back and is dead, and he's laying across the phone cord, so every time they stretch out the cord, the body lifts up! Maybe you just need to rent the movie! Mr. Merriwether was played by one of our faves, Paul Wexler! Paul was always playing the weirdo, like Grissom, the butler in "The Bowery Boys Meet The Monsters," or Zutai in "The Four Skulls Of Jonathan Drake," a beatnik in "Village To A Small Planet," or Tagot in the 1975 TV series, "Far Out Space Nuts," and Yep, that sure is Richard Pryor as Lieutenant Whittaker in his first film appearance!! What a pack of cards, what a can of nuts!

I just dig this portrait of Sid Caesar! Before "The Busy Body" Sid was in "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World," and a few years later it was another Castle classic, "The Spirit Is Willing" that also had an astounding soundtrack by Vic Mizzy!

The love interest femme fatale was the classy Anne Bancroft as bereaved widow Margo Foster Kane! Among a ton of other refined work, Anne was also Olga, Queen of the Cossacks on the "Batman" TV show!

Only Bill Castle knows how to work a meat cleaver in the back into a comedy, and get away with it!

Round and round we go again, and again, and in the meantime, Bobbi's had time to work on a new act when she's not mourning her late husband!

WTF?! The grave's not empty any more!!

These two dummies were in the grave instead, and they and George get dropped off downtown, and George can't believe that the women think the dummies are sexier than he is!!

Last but not at all least, we've got Jan Murray as Murray Foster! One of my favoritest TV game shows of all time was "Treasure Hunt" with host Jan Murray, I don't know what it was, and I sure as Hell can't remember, but there was just something about Jan that made him funnier than a bunch of other memorable characters!

So that's it kids, "The Busy Body" is a timeless thriller of a comedy, and in retrospect, a veritable Who's Who of 1960's comedy! Leave it to William Castle to make it all happen!! I'm sure he's still laughing somewhere!!!


Christopher said...

I'd totally forgotten about Godfrey Cambridge,He was all over TV in the 60s and 70s,didn't know he cashed it in so soon.

Eegah!! and Tabonga! said...

Forgotten Memories is what we're all about!!!

Anonymous said...

Tom Misnik said...

Sid Caesar directed by William Castle with music by Vic Mizzy. One of my all time favourites. Great supporting cast too! Something tells me that Mr Castle himself might be stopping by too to pay his respects.

prof. grewbeard said...

Godfrey was great in Beware The Blob!...

Eegah!! and Tabonga! said...

Lookin' forward to doing that one soon!

Karswell said...

One of the few Castle films that has totally eluded me! Looks great!

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TABONGA! said...

Speaking of rare Castle movies, how about PROJECT X with animation by Hanna Barbera!!

kochillt said...

THE BUSY BODY marked the screen debut of Richard Pryor, who paid his dues for ten years before his first starring role in 1977's GREASED LIGHTNING.

EEGAH!! said...

Good one kochillt

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