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Friday Film Review: Walk, Don’t Run

Walk, Don’t Run (1966)

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Grade: C+

My quest for Summer Olympic themed movies turned up three that I decided to review. There are lots of Winter Games but surprisingly few about the Summer ones. Oh, well. Honestly, were it not for the fact that I needed another to round out the Friday slots during these Summer Games (Hi, London!) I probably wouldn’t have done this one but beggars can’t choose so here goes.

Netflix has a nice, compact synopsis –

“When an English businessman (Cary Grant, in his final film performance) arrives in Tokyo, the influx of tourists for the upcoming Olympic Games makes it almost impossible to find lodging. He smooth-talks his way into sharing an apartment with a beautiful British woman (Samantha Eggar) and soon finds himself playing cupid for her and an American Olympic athlete (Jim Hutton).”

This is a remake of the WWII film “The More the Merrier” with Charles Coburn, Jean Arthur and Joel McCrea which has been updated to the 1964 Games in Tokyo. The huge influx of people for the Games accounts for the lack of hotel space which spurs the need for William Rutland to find a place to sleep for the two nights before his hotel reservations will be ready. Steve Davis is a US athlete who’s also in town early – he’s an architect studying the fusion of traditional Japanese architecture with post war modern. Trust me, you just have to go with the idea that in 1964 an athlete would arrive early, that there wouldn’t be a place for him in the Olympic quarters and that the team officials would leave him wandering around Tokyo looking for a place to sleep. The set up of the original works much better but I guess you work with what you’ve got.

Anywho, Samantha Eggar is the poor woman – whose punctuality makes Mary Poppins look like a slacker – patriotically offering to sublet her apartment via a posting in the British Embassy who ends up dodging the other two in the narrow hallways of her surprisingly roomy Tokyo apartment. I mean this place is huge for one person and I couldn’t help but wonder what monthly rent on a place this size would cost today. Probably more than I make in a year. It’s a good thing this movie is in color because Samantha’s hair is marvelous and the wardrobe people did a bang up job highlighting it with her clothes.

Jim Hutton (the father of Timothy) was a staple of 1960s movies usually playing a poor sap who gets swept away in the plot and merely reacts to everyone else. Much as he does here. He shows some brief episodes of comic chemistry with Grant and Eggar but mostly he’s kind of just there. Watch for when his Olympic event is finally revealed. It actually does fit the plot though I have to agree with Rutland’s acerbic comments about it. Acclaimed British actor John Standing plays Christine’s stuffy fiance. The character’s name, Julius D. Haversack, should tell you all you need to know about him. Oh, and keep a eye out for the two darling children who silently watch Rutland in action and George Takei (Ahead Warp Factor One, Mr. Sulu) in a bit part towards the end.

But the real reason to watch this is for Cary Grant doing everything he can, including humming the theme music from “Charade,” to get all the laughs he can from this material. Mostly he does better than anyone else. It’s definitely not among his best films but it’s not a total dog to go out on. And at least he plays his age here taking over the role Charles Coburn perfected and playing it a touch more suavely if no less manipulatively. His use of Japanese miniature electronics to save the day is inspired.

I think the mid 1960s is about as late as this plot – throwing unmarried men and a woman into one small apartment and then watching love blossom – could be expected to work. Once the 60s were officially swinging most of the impact and titillation factor was lost. But the film makers did a good job of utilizing the Tokyo backdrop to make the film look good and the sliding paper screens of the apartment to work the romance and comedy. It’s worth checking out if only to see the final hurrah of the great Cary Grant.

~Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

19 Comments

  1. cate
    Jul 27, 2012 @ 06:09:44

    This is such a lovely piece of 60′s fluff. The always reliable Cary Grant ( the man was the very definition of ” he get’s better looking as he gets older” ), plays off the younger cast members beautifully. Jim Hutton was such a talented comedic actor & John Standing does a fab job as the very cliched consul – if anything, lets this film down a bit, it’s Samantha Eggar. Perhaps it’s just me, but I never “got ” her as an actress .
    If Mr Grant didn’t go out with a bang with this film,he certainly didn’t go out with a whimper .
    Oh & Jayne – the kids – brilliant, just brilliant !

  2. Jayne
    Jul 27, 2012 @ 07:26:16

    @cate: I haven’t seen too many films with Eggar – am actually blanking out on any titles right now – but nothing I’ve seen her in has inspired me to look deeper into her performance backlist. Is she still working?

  3. LeeF
    Jul 27, 2012 @ 08:31:43

    I have always loved this movie. I guess it seems silly and fluffy but it reminds me so much of a more innocent, naive time. Plus I had a huge crush on Jim Hutton.

  4. Jayne
    Jul 27, 2012 @ 08:45:32

    @LeeF: I’ve always though Jim Hutton was a lot cuter than his son.

  5. cate
    Jul 27, 2012 @ 08:50:48

    She starred in The Collector with Terrance stamp in the mid 60′s (very disturbing film – nearly -but not quite as good as Peeping Tom) which might’ve been her breakout film; & she seemed to do a lot of TV work in the US through the 80′s & 90′s

  6. Jayne
    Jul 27, 2012 @ 08:57:50

    @cate: Oh, that’s right – I recall reading about that movie now. I’ve never watched it because I thought it sounded so disturbing.

  7. cate
    Jul 27, 2012 @ 09:04:16

    @Jayne: It is truly creepy, in the worst sense of the word. I watched it in my teens, & it put me off Terrance Stamp for years. It took Priscilla Queen of the Desert to put him back in perspective

  8. Sunita
    Jul 27, 2012 @ 10:03:01

    I was hoping this review would be timed with the Olympics! Yes, it’s kind of silly, but I love this movie. Cary Grant steals it, of course, but Samatha Eggar is so beautiful, Jim Hutton is the perfect All-American Guy, and the supporting characters and setting are wonderful. It’s the epitome of talented people elevating a mundane script. And the jokes about racewalking are pretty good too.

    I was trying to remember what else I’d seen Eggar in besides The Collector (shudder), and IMDB reminded me that she and Yul Brynner were in a very short-lived TV series version of The King & I. I saw that when it was on, I think; all 13 episodes. ;)

  9. LeeF
    Jul 27, 2012 @ 11:21:25

    @Jayne:
    OK- another Jim Hutton guilty pleasure : “Hellfighters” with John Wayne and Katherine Ross ;-)

  10. Danielle
    Jul 27, 2012 @ 11:26:58

    It’s been a while since I saw this film but I believe I enjoyed it mainly because of Cary Grant. The story felt surprisingly flat. Wasn’t Samantha Eggar in Dr. Dolittle with Rex Harrison?

    The participation of Joel McCrea in the older version makes me want to watch it despite Jean Arthur, whose voice ruins her for me (sorry).

  11. carmen webster buxton
    Jul 27, 2012 @ 11:33:36

    I always loved this movie! I liked the original WWII era version, too, but you can put me down in the “total crush on Jim Hutton” camp. It was so sad when he died so young.

    I wonder if they could remake this same plot line today? It would be hard to do partly because it’s not unusual to have opposite-sex roommates anymore. They’d almost have to make it more extreme– maybe two people sharing a two-bunk bedroom on a coast-to-coast Amtrak trip? It would take three days at least; that should be long enough, right?

  12. Marianne McA
    Jul 27, 2012 @ 11:44:47

    Haven’t seen this one. My dad watched any John Wayne film that was on, so I’ve seen ‘Hellfighters’ often enough – I always thought Hutton was gorgeous, without knowing who he was.
    The one I’m hoping someone will have scheduled over the Olympics is ‘Geordie’, which also used to be on reasonably often when I was young – I always loved the opening where he took up the exercises, and the terrible hat at the end. I’ve been half wondering whether to buy it, just to watch it while the Olympics are on.

  13. leslie
    Jul 27, 2012 @ 11:55:18

    I love, I mean I really love Jim Hutton. He was often paired with Paula Prentiss because they were tall. Check out “Where the Boys Are” and “The Green Berets”.
    I love “older” Cary Grant movies. “Indiscreet” with Ingrid Bergman, “The Grass is Greener” with Deborah Kerr and “Father Goose” with a gorgeous Leslie Caron. My mom and I would watch these kind of movies on The Sunday TV Matinee every weekend. I miss that kind of independent TV station, they are long gone.

  14. cate
    Jul 27, 2012 @ 12:23:24

    @Marianne McA:Re:- Geordie. If you’re in the UK it’s on Amazon for £6.57 as a region 2 DVD . Dunno about the US tho’

  15. Jayne
    Jul 27, 2012 @ 12:26:19

    @LeeF: @Marianne McA: Hmmm, sounds like I need to check out “Hellfighters.” Hutton also looks great in “The Hallelujah Trail” though the movie itself is not so good.

  16. Jayne
    Jul 27, 2012 @ 12:27:22

    @cate: There is a US version which ::cough, cough:: I’ve seen.

  17. Jayne
    Jul 27, 2012 @ 12:43:39

    @Sunita: Whoa, I never knew there was a TV version of that story. And with Yul Brynner too. Huh.

    I also didn’t realize Eggar has more given names than a British Royal.

  18. heidenkind
    Jul 27, 2012 @ 13:00:05

    This is my mom’s favorite movie. I got her to watch The More the Merrier once and she was like, “That was awful and boring!” *shrug* I think they’re pretty comparable, actually–the script for The More the Merrier is better, but I love the setting of Walk Don’t Run, and Cary Grant is always worth watching.

  19. Jenny
    Jul 28, 2012 @ 06:26:14

    This one is a favorite of my mom and I have to admit that when I watched it with her, I became a fan too. I thought it was fluffy and fun and it makes me kind of happy to see it reviewed here.

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