MACLEAN’S REVIEWS

A PICKLED PECK IN A SLICK FLICK

He not only wins the LSD race by default, he gets Sophia Loren as well

WENDY MICHENER August 6 1966
MACLEAN’S REVIEWS

A PICKLED PECK IN A SLICK FLICK

He not only wins the LSD race by default, he gets Sophia Loren as well

WENDY MICHENER August 6 1966

A PICKLED PECK IN A SLICK FLICK

Michener on movies

He not only wins the LSD race by default, he gets Sophia Loren as well

RIGHT NOW about five movie producers are busy trying to be the first to get an LSD movie onto the screen. In this sort of movie-business crap game, it’s winner take all. The first pictures to satisfy the public's curiosity

— good, indifferent, or downright stinkers — stand to make a lot of loot. The rest are almost automatic losers.

As of this moment a picture called Hallucination is in the lead, but all of them have been scooped accidentally by Arabesque, a slick and highly entertaining spy flick.

Gregory Peck is the guy who has the hallucinations in Arabesque, even if he only gets turned on involuntarily, not as an experiment. He plays one of these lucky professors that are always being kidnapped by the agents of some foreign power — usually one of those sneaky Middle Eastern devils

— and forced to put their knowledge to work on some fiendish project. As usual, the professor is subjected to ingenious and not really believable dangers, but is rewarded in the end by the company of an exotic lady who collects shoes and men (Sophia Loren ).

The professor gets injected wdth some mysterious drug when he refuses to co-operate with a rival agent who has kidnapped him from his kidnapper. Result: he babbles like a baby and tells all. But the strong-arm guys don’t recognize the truth when they hear it, and throw' him out into the middle of a busy speedway.

He survives, we are to believe.

because he is out of his head. T raffic rushes by in strange shapes and forms and the whole sequence is shot as though we arc inside his mind. This in itself is not ;new. Movies have always tried to duplicate men’s subjective visions with everything from your ordinary garden variety dream or drunk sequence to expressions of outright madness. People who have taken LSD tell me that the imagery of Juliet Of The Spirits resembles ways of seeing induced by that drug, but so far as I know Arabesque is the first movie to set out explicitly and deliberately to reproduce the effects of a hallucogenic drug.

Since the drug isn’t named, there’s no way of knowing how realistic the sequence is, but it certainly is dazzling. Director Stanley Donen has cleverly exploited some of the techniques of photography which were worked out by those much maligned avant-garde film-makers years ago.

Arabesque is the kind of movie that keeps you waiting till the end to find out what it’s all been about. Instead of proceeding in the orderly fashion of old-style mysteries — from corpse, to clues, to solution — it plunges you right into the middle and then works slowly towards the beginning and the end at the same time. You get your corpse along with your solution.

This method of story-telling takes a lot of fancy footwork to keep you with it and Arabesque has some of the fanciest. Donen steals chase ideas from everyone — for instance from Hitchcock’s North By Northwest — and then improves on them: this time the enemy tries to flush the hero out of the wheatfield by harvesting him instead of merely try to cut him down with a crop-spraying plane.

WALK, DON’T RUN is one of those movies that came too late to catch its trend. It features Jim Hutton as a member of the U.S. Olympic team, and the romantic story-line is centred around the Tokyo Olympics of 1964. By now everyone has had a chance to satisfy any interest in that event through TV coverage, newsreels, and even a full-length color documentary, Tokyo Olympiad.

This wouldn’t be so damaging if

Walk, Don’t Run had anything else going for it, besides Cary Grant’s way with comedy. But as it is, the picture already seems like last year’s movie, and in a way it is. The match-making plot is taken from an earlier housingshortage comedy called The More The Merrier. Even Cary Grant is a disappointment. He can pack more humor into a simple comedy line like “How did you do that?” than anybody since Mae West, but I don’t get much pleasure from seeing him play a bumbling - old - father figure who spends all his time getting the young folks together. I say that Cary Grant doesn’t have to lose his pants to be funny.

WENDY MICHENER