Friday, May 20, 2011

Find the Lady

(John Trent, 1976)

An absurd farce in the great British tradition, only the Canadian apple has fallen very far from the tree and got all wormy. Not only does this feature John Candy’s first marquee role, but they fly in Peter Cook, Dick Emery, even Mickey Rooney, who unlike the others is actually given some ostensibly humorous lines to deliver – well, actually just one line, but he gets to deliver it eight or ten times. In the absence of verbal wit, we are granted the most rehashed, labored slapstick imaginable, with a penchant for smashing automobiles that puts John Landis to shame. We also get an anachronistic armload of objectionable stereotyping – an inscrutable Asian cop who is introduced with a gong, an uppity secretary whose skin color is played as a climactic sight gag, and especially the omnipresent drag queen of nightmares (named Bruce LaRousse, ring any bells!) played with nagging aggression by, believe it or not, a young Richard Monette. The film ends with a chase through an abandoned funhouse whose utter familiarity doesn’t prevent the director from botching every single comic opportunity available. Makes Benny Hill look like Oscar Wilde.

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