DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

DON'T DRINK THE WATER (director: Howard Morris; screenwriter: Harvey Bullock/Woody Allen/R.S. Allen/based on the play by Woody Allen; cinematographer: Harvey Genkins; editor: Ralph Rosenblum; music:  Patrick Williams; cast:  Jackie Gleason (Walter Hollander), Estelle Parsons (Marion Hollander), Ted Bessell (Axel Magee), Joan Delaney (Susan Hollander), Michael Constantine (Krojack), Howard St. John (Ambassador Magee),  Danny Meehan (Kilroy), Richard Libertini (Father Drobney), Avery Schreiber  (Sultan); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Jack Grossberg/Charles H. Joffe/Joseph E. Levine/Henry Polonsky/Jack Rollins; Avco Embassy; 1969)

"The title should be Don't See The Film."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The TV comic and busy television director Howard Morris ("Goin' Coconuts") shows us he should stick to TV, cinema is not his medium. Morris's inept direction and the awful script by Harvey Bullock, Woody Allen and R.S. Allen, makes the edgy successful Woody Allen Broadway play turn to buffoonery. It's an awkward film. The slapstick comedy is infantile, the sight gags are not funny and everyone is miscast.. The cast tries its best, but it struggle for laughs with the weak material it's given. Its star Jackie Gleason tries to pull off on the big screen his usual brash TV act and it just doesn't work. The title should be Don't See The Film.

Newark, NJ, kosher caterer Walter Hollander (Jackie Gleason), his cleanliness freak wife Marion (Estelle Parsons), and their naive daughter Susan (Joan Delaney), are passengers on a hijacked plane, heading for Athens during the last stop of their European summer vacation, but are forced to land behind the Iron Curtain in Vulgaria. While taking photos of themselves at the airport, Krojack (Michael Constantine), the head of the Vulgarian secret police, suspects espionage and attempts to arrest them. However the incompetent son of the absent ambassador, Axel Magee (Ted Bessell), takes them to the American embassy and gives them asylum. He will also help them try and escape when a spy swap is not done because the Vulgarian spy hangs himself.

The slight story has the family in fear they will be stuck there forever, believing this is so when the Hollanders meet in the residence the daffy refugee Father Drobney (Richard Libertini ), who has been there for six years.

The film displeased just about everyone, including Woody. He made another version in 1994, a TV one, which puts this one to shame.

REVIEWED ON 11/20/2015       GRADE: C

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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