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Never a Dull Moment DVD Review

Never a Dull Moment

Theatrical Release: June 26, 1968 / Running Time: 100 Minutes / Rating: G

Director: Jerry Paris

Cast: Dick Van Dyke (Jack Albany), Edward G. Robinson (Leo Joseph Smooth), Dorothy Provine (Sally Inwood), Henry Silva (Frank Boley), Joanna Moore (Melanie Smooth), Tony Bill (Florian), Slim Pickens (Cowboy Schaeffer), Jack Elam (Ace Williams), Ned Glass (Rinzy Tobreski), Richard Bakalyan (Bobby Macoon)


In Never a Dull Moment, Jack Albany is an actor of subpar television fare. One night, while walking home after filming, Albany comes across a mob henchman (Tony Bill) who is certain that Jack is really Ace Williams. To save his neck, Jack plays along, passing himself off as the west-coast gangster and putting himself in the midst of a big-time crime operation.

Soon, Jack meets Leo Smooth (Edward G. Robinson), the head of the outfit. When Smooth isn't taking private in-house art lessons, he dreams of pulling off a stunt which will achieve immortality like Capone. When the gang is all rounded up, Leo reveals plans for a much-anticipated major new heist. The target is "Field of Sunflowers", a 40-foot-long triptych painting that is currently at the fictional Manhattan Museum of Art.

Meanwhile, Jack faces a number of obstacles, from a skeptical henchman (aptly played by Henry Silva) to having to pretend that one drink puts him into a wacky stupor. Then there's the fact that Ace Williams is going to have to make dead two museum guards as part of the job.

On the set of another lowbrow production, Jack can only dream of winning awards. Now, he'll have to give quite the performance to convince the mob that he's Ace Williams.

Further complications arise when the real Ace Williams shows up. It's decided that the only one to be sure they have the right Ace Williams is to stick the two of them in a room together and see who comes out alive. This is one of a number of situations which lends itself to comedy in the hands of the film's charismatic star.

The only ally Jack decides in whom to confide is Leo's art instructor Sally (Dorothy Provine), who requires a lot to be convinced, even though Jack's face seems familiar to her. (He is crushed that she saw his critically-acclaimed performance in Twelfth Night but doesn't remember him.) Though there isn't much chemistry between the two, the presence of a confidant and the obligatory romance seems to be requisite, making the formulaic Disney female character easier to accept.

Though a G-rated film about crime sounds like an unlikely combination, not only does Never a Dull Moment work, but it works wonderfully. The film rests a great deal on Dick Van Dyke's shoulders, so its success is a credit to him. In this, his third and final film for Disney, Van Dyke maintains an air of slickness, which serves to convince the serious criminals he's in with, while creating a number of comedic situations for viewers.

Crime kingpin Leo Smooth gets private art lessons from Sally Inwood. Meanwhile, Leo's got his eyes on "Field of Sunflowers", something better than even he could paint.

The film may not be filled with hilarity, but it never stops entertaining. Made shortly after Walt Disney had passed on, the film could very well have been made five years earlier when he was alive. Instead, its plot-driven mayhem (much like the tight-storied The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes) rings in a new era of Disney that retains familiarity without feeling like retreaded territory.

Never a Dull Moment is directed by "Dick Van Dyke Show" co-star and frequent director Jerry Paris. Other memorable performances are turned in by Richard Bakalyan (later seen in all three Dexter Riley movies) as an inept mobster and Joanna Moore as Leo's showy wife. Though the film is entirely tongue-in-cheek, the supporting cast give performances which complement Van Dyke's commendable lead, and actually serve to enhance the stakes of the situation and create a bit of suspense.

Buy Never a Dull Moment from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.75:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Mono (English)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Closed Captioned
Release Date: July 6, 2004
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
White Keepcase

VIDEO and AUDIO

Presented in its original 1.75:1 widescreen aspect ratio and enhanced for 16x9 televisions, Never a Dull Moment looks quite good on DVD. While the image appears to be a little bit soft, it is well-defined and mostly free of flaws. The transfer handles both the dark and well-lit scenes the film offers without problem. The clean print also features vibrant and accurate colors.

The Dolby Mono track is also quite pleasing. Dialogue is crisp, faithful, and always discernible. The gritty mystery score which backs the film is effectively presented.

Jack waves to Leo's wife. The catering staff will be serving something a little bit different today!

EXTRAS

Though not mentioned on the packaging, this DVD includes the original theatrical trailer for Never a Dull Moment. Running 2 minutes and 37 seconds, it's a fun preview for the film which prominently displays its star. It's very nice to see this previously standard feature once again completed, even if it is the only extra feature.

Menus are nice-looking 16x9 stills accompanied by the lively score. These too prominently feature Dick Van Dyke. The only other thing on the disc is the ubiquitous 90-second trailer for classic live action films on Disney DVD and video, which promotes the likes of The Parent Trap and The Apple Dumpling Gang.

The mob tries to determine who the real Ace Williams is. Jack and Sally try to figure things out.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Never a Dull Moment is a brisk and enjoyable comedy, which works well on the shoulders of its star Dick Van Dyke. Disney's long-awaited DVD release exhibits high quality video and audio, and the original theatrical trailer is a nice bonus. As such, Never a Dull Moment merits a strong recommendation.

More on the DVD

Related Reviews

New to DVD:
The Three Lives of Thomasina (1964) | The Ugly Dachshund (1966)
The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band (1968)

Disney in the Late '60s:
The Happiest Millionaire (1967) | The Gnome-Mobile (1967)
The Love Bug (1969) | Blackbeard's Ghost (1968)

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