Don’t Worry, We’ll Think of a Title

I never really experienced much of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” until my adult years.  Oh, it was on all the time when I was a kid…WGN Chicago, 6pm if I remember correctly.  But that was dinner time, which meant the TV was out of view.  But I do remember often tuning in long enough to see whether it was an episode where Van Dyke tripped over the furniture in the opening credits, or skirted around it.  The show ran from 1961 to 66 and has become a TV classic.  But, many do not know about a strange film project that involved several of the show’s supporting players, produced as the show finished production of it’s final season.  Produced, co-written by, and staring Van Dyke Show player Morey Amsterdam, and a candidate for worst movie title of all time…”Don’t Worry, We’ll Think of a Title.”

Amsterdam plays Charlie, a short order cook in a diner.  Also on hand are fellow “Dick Van Dyke Show” castmates Rose Marie, as waitress Annie and Richard Deacon as the owner, Mr. Travis.  After a crazy lunch rush, an attorney (a cameo by Moe Howard) arrives at the diner to inform their co-worker Magda (January Jones…no, not the “Mad Men” star) that she has inherited a bookstore upstate.  Charlie and Annie end up following her to help her run the store.Now, all sorts of strange things happen in this bookstore, and none of them seem to involve buying books.  To start with, two well dressed gentlemen emerge from the cellar each morning carrying heavy suitcases.  But this doesn’t seem to bother the new proprietors enough to call the cops or anything silly like that.  There also seem to be a bunch of creepy characters hanging out around the store, whispering in corners and talking into tobacco  pipes like they were cell phones.  Unknown to Charlie and the gang, these are spys from a communist country who are out to locate a missing cosmonaut who happens to look just like Charlie.  Comedy hijinks ensue involving trap doors, gunfights, and even a beatnik party.

It’s not surprising that the whole production looks and feels like a TV show.  Most of the major players, including director Harmon Jones, did most of the work for the small screen.  The story itself seems to be built around leftover sets and props from other productions that the crew had access to.  As a matter of fact, several sequences look like the cast looked around and figured out what they were going to do on spot…which often meant pulling out old vaudeville gags.  This does bring the occasional laugh, but most of the attempts at humor are astronomically bad.  I mean, think about it…this is supposed to be a spy spoof, but almost all of the film takes place in  a bookstore.  How many spy movies have you seen where the primary location is a bookstore?

On “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” Amsterdam and Marie were great as Rob Petrie’s crazy co-workers.  But here, when they are the primary players, the bug-eyed expressions and mugging for the camera wear thin fast.   In some ways, it represents the changing of the comedy guard that was beginning to happen at this time in our pop culture history.

I do admit to having laughed a bit.  A few of the funnier moments, though, come by way of cameos by other 60’s TV personalities.  Danny Thomas, Milton Berle, Steve Allen, and Carl Reiner are among those who make appearances.  It’s these sort of moments that make the movie an interesting curiosity that many will want to check out.  But be warned…from what I can tell, this film barely received a release by United Artists in 1966, and that’s with good reason.

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2 thoughts on “Don’t Worry, We’ll Think of a Title

  1. I’d been wanting to see this film ever since getting “The Three Stooges Scrapbook” hot off the press in 1983, and last year (!!!) it aired on MeTV. Hoo, boy! I think I could’ve waited another 34 years to see it! Of all the players, Moe and the rest of the cameos came out (relatively) unscathed. Berle’s bit dragging the rope had my mind going in several different (blue) directions, but to have such talent as Amsterdam, Marie, and Deacon play so…badly is a crime against comedic humanity!

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