WHO IS KILLING THE GREAT CHEFS OF EUROPE? - Academy 6, Pike; Springfield Mall, State and Tenley Circle 2.
A movie for the Cuisinart crowd? Wouldn't you think that would be a good idea? There are all those people - if you also count the ones with the rake-off machines - with money and leisure, the forefront of a new national preoccupation with food, just waiting to be amused and satirized.
"Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?" takes not only this good idea, but also several other fine ingredients, such as Robert Morley, the food of Paul Bocuse and the interiors of top European restaurants and hotels, and then makes a mess of it all. It's a crime of the order of dumping ketchup on a perfect piece of meat.
Another crime is the crime story in this murder mystery. The chefs are done away with like the ingredients in their favorite dishes, a gruesome matter treated with light-hearted bad taste by the survivors. Old Louis got baked too long, ha ha.
A great part of the mess is, as in cooking, an inattention to detail. This begins with the film credits showing what are meant to be fine place-settings in great restaurants, but with knife blades pointing in the wrong direction and irrelevant teaspoons - small matters, but ones that would disgrace any sensitive restaurateur. Then the chief suspects in various crimes run merrily from one country to another, without any interference from the various police departments involved.
Morley plays the editor of a gourmet magazine, who takes in vast quantities of food and gives out salty remarks. It would be a delicious performance, given any sort of support. But Jacqueline Bisset, as a pastry chef, and George Segal, as her ex-husband who is in the fast-food business, are simply idiotic - both the characters and the performances.
That some people prefer pressed duck and others fast chicken is not enough of a joke to sustain a movie.