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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Surprise Package (1960)

A gambling mobster (Yul Brynner) is deported to the Greek island where he was born by the U.S. government. He leaves his money back in the States for safekeeping but when he sends for it, it's been absconded by his so called friends and associates. With the help of his ditzy blonde moll (Mitzi Gaynor), he plans a jewel heist in the lavish home of an exiled King (Noel Coward). Directed by Stanley Donen (CHARADE), who normally has the light touch such material requires, the laughs are sporadic and far between. Never the lightest of actors, Brynner's idea of comedic timing is saying his lines as fast as he can and his nastiness toward Gaynor (who seems to be trying too hard) borders on verbal abuse. Coward barely tries though he and Gaynor appear to be having an amusing time singing the film's title song. The film is in B&W which is a pity because the beautiful Greek locations cry out for color. It's in the colorful supporting characters where the film comes alive: Eric Pohlmann, George Coulouris and especially Guy Deghy who steals the film as an inept Hungarian spy. The clever main titles are by that wizard, Maurice Binder.

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