Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Overlooked Movies -- The Liquidator

First, a little background. In my hometown the only theater left by the 1960s had a special deal on Wednesday nights -- 15-cent movies. So for a quarter you could see a movie, buy a box of Guess What?, and have a few cents left over. The candy was required for enjoyment of the movie. It was some kind of taffy, and there was a prize in very box. I didn't see The Liquidator during its first run, but Judy and I went to see it on 15-cent night.

The movie's based on John Gardner's novel of the same name. I'd read the book and knew pretty much what to expect. Rod Taylor plays Boysie Oakes, a reluctant spy whose job is assassination. There were probably many instances before this of similar situations (most often in Bob Hope movies). The main character is hopelessly inept, but because of mistaken impressions of him by all concerned, he appears to be quite heroic and dangerous, a regular killing machine. Mainly he's a coward who's very lucky. One good twist (not really a spoiler) is that Boysie likes being The Liquidator, but being unable to do the job, he hires a professional hit man to take care of the unpleasantness.

So you know what you're getting here. You also get Jill St. John in Technicolor, along with Trevor Howard and Akim Tamiroff, among others. Plus good production values and Shirley Bassey singing the title song. Good (but not great) fun.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Another one I missed. I think at one time I avoided violent movies out of some principle. Obviously I put it aside at some point.

Anonymous said...

Never saw this one either, or heard of Guess, What? Was it a Texas thing?

Bill Murray played a similar kind of role in THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO LITTLE, which would make a good Forgotten Film.


Todd Mason said...

Well, Jeff, nothing stopping you from writing up an Overlooked film (or other A/V), though there Bill Murray's character mistakenly believes his brother has bought him, as a gift, into a spy game of the LARP (live-action role playing) variety...and I had heard of Guess What? but only vaguely, and see this citation:

I have 3 empty 1950's "Guess What?" candy boxes. This was produced by the Williamson Candy Company (of Chicago) and measures 2 1/2" X 3 3/4" X 7/8".

Or, as a commenter notes on the photo Bill repros here, What does being eaten by an alligator have to do with candy?

Would this film have earned an M (PG) or R rating a few years later, Bill?

Bill Crider said...

I (naturally) remember those alligator boxes very well. I wish I'd saved one.

I don't think this would've been an R movie later on. More PG.

Jeff Flugel said...

Cool post! I've always been curious about this movie, being a big fan of Rod Taylor and 60s spy movies in general. I didn't know until I read your post though that Taylor was playing an inept spy. Thanks for the info on this one.

I envy you a 15 cent movie night...best I've ever experienced was $1.50, which ain't too shabby either, but can't compete with 15 cents.