Foul Play: AMC's Carrollton 6, K-B Crystal, K-B Fine Arts, K-B Silver, Roth's Americana, Roth's Randolph and Roth's Tyson's Corner.
There is an unpleasant tee-hee quality to the otherwise pleasant romantic-mystery film, "Foul Play."
Tee-hee - look at the dwarf!
Tee-hee - look at the albino!
Tee-hee - look at the giggling Japanese!
Tee-hee - look at the goofy Pope!
And how about the little old ladies who play Scrabble with dirty words, and the short fellow who has an apartment full of oversized, inflatable obscene dolls, and the tough woman who carries brass knuckles and mace because she assumes everyone is trying to rape her? Tee-hee!
It is against this background of ridicule that Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase play a couple of normal, amiable people who are caught up in an assassination plot. She is a librarian who is unwittingly given dangerous evidence, he is a police detective, and they fall in love while both are rushing around trying to beat off attackers and figure out what is going on.
Why the nasty undertone to this perfectly good thriller?
Naturally, someone thought it was funny - someone who finds endless hilarity in the presumed physical, psychological and national inferiority of others, because each of these jokes is done several times. But beyond that, it seems to come out of a lack of faith in the picture's stars, and the veru quality they project that saves the picture.
This quality is sweetness. Goldie Hawn, dressed in Marilyn Monroe's "Seven Year Itch" dress for her big scene, does not look vulnerable or innocently sexy or voluptuously childish, or any such proven star quality - she looks like a competent, grown-up woman who is also dazzlingly sweet. Chevy Chase's appeal is somewhat more bland - the grafting of a few pratfalls onto an otherwise competent character doesn't take - but it, too, is marked by kindness.
Her gentle radiance and his unassuming goodwill are enough to arouse an interest in their well-being that could easily carry the film. But the sneering at the minor characters for being kinky or strange, the film seems totry to boost its main characters by insisting that their normality is something new and rare. Actually, sweetness is rare enough in the thriller world - theirs would have stood out well enough among your nice normal criminal types.