|GAZEBO (director: George Marshall; screenwriters: play by Alec Coppel/story by Myra & Alec Coppel/George Wells; cinematographer: Paul C. Vogel; editor: Adrienne Fazan; music: Jeff Alexander; cast: Glenn Ford (Elliot Nash), Debbie Reynolds (Nell Nash), Carl Reiner (Harlow Edison), John McGiver (Sam Thorpe), Mabel Albertson (Mrs. Chandler), Doro Merande (Matilda), Martin Landau (The Duke), Richard Wessel (Louis, the Louse), Bert Freed (Lt. Jenkins), Stanley Adams (Dan Shelby), Frank Mitchell (Mr. Olson ), Harlan Warde (Dr. Bradley), Robert Ellenstein (Ben); Runtime: 102; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Lawrence Weingarten; MGM; 1959)|
|"A funny offbeat black comedy
based on a so-so Broadway play."
by Dennis Schwartz
funny offbeat black comedy based on a so-so Broadway
play by Alec Coppel, where it starred
Walter Slezak and Jayne Meadows. Writer George
Wells leaves room for it to be slapstick funny. Director
George Marshall ("Destry Rides Again"/"The
Blue Dahlia"/"You Can't Cheat an Honest Man") shoots
it in black and white and keeps it cinema friendly.
While Glenn Ford shows he not only can play cowboys
but can hang with the better screen comedians, as he's
the reason the film succeeds.
TV writer-director Elliot Nash (Glenn Ford)
and Broadway actress wife Nell
(Debbie Reynolds) live a quiet life in the suburbs
of NYC. He's about to hit it big, as he expects to
be hired to write a script for Alfred
Hitchcock. But his nerves are shot because a
greedy sleazy blackmailer named Shelby (Stanley
Adams) is squeezing him over the phone
for money he doesn't have. The sleaze threatens to
release to the public cheesecake photos he has of
Nell when she was first breaking into showbiz.
The desperate writer opts to stop being squeezed dry
by killing the blackmailer and burying him in the
foundation of the new gazebo he's installing in the
yard. But things do not go according to plan. The
film's best part has Ford going through with the
murder, but everything goes wrong when the blackmailer
shows up at Elliot's home as arranged and is
supposedly shot dead. A funny bit has Ford receiving a
long-distance call from Hitchcock in the middle of the
murder, and he asks the master advice on how to bury a
body if he doesn't have a shovel.
actors Doro Merande, as the maid who
always shouts, and John McGiver, as
the contractor for the gazebo, with an uncanny droll
humor, add to the film's comical moments. But the
pigeon Ford rescued in the park and turned into a pet
named Herman, gets most of the laughs. What takes some
steam off the comedy is that there's too much story
padding to make the murder just a bit too contrived
for its own good, that Carl Reiner as a lonely pushy
bachelor DA doesn't have the funny lines to deliver
his part deserves and an overlong and unexciting
Debbie Reynolds musical stage number is unnecessary.
REVIEWED ON 6/29/2015 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ