Thursday, December 7, 2017

Every Little Crook and Nanny (1972)



          Every Little Crook and Nanny is a deeply mediocre crime comedy based on a novel by Evan Hunter and featuring a random assortment of familiar actors. The stars are studio-era hunk Victor Mature, taking a break from retirement to play a caricatured mobster; versatile British actress Lynn Redgrave, still desperately trying to pick a lane in Hollywood; and sad-eyed Paul Sand, one of the most distinctively neurotic screen personalities of the early ’70s. Abetting the main actors are a slew of minor players from film and TV of the era: John Astin, Severn Darden, Dom DeLuise, Pat Harrington Jr., Pat Morita, Austin Pendleton, Isabel Sanford, Vic Tayback, and more. The story moves briskly, the jokes are (mostly) inoffensive, and watching these actors is like noshing on comfort food. In other words, even though Every Little Crook and Nanny is substandard, watching the picture is a tolerable experience.
          At the top of the story, goons working for mobster Carmine Ganucci (Mature) forcibly evict etiquette teacher Miss Poole (Redgrave) from her longtime storefront, so she vows revenge. Poole talks her way into a job as a nanny for Carmine’s young son just before Carmine departs for a trip to Europe. Then Poole conspires with her dimwitted accomplice, Luther (Pendleton), to kidnap the boy and squeeze Carmine for ransom. Coproducer, cowrtier, and director Cy Howard, a longtime comedy pro, keeps things humming with abundant physical comedy, plentiful punch lines, and short scenes. Hilarity is elusive, but the movie aims to please—and with so many gifted comic actors in the cast, some moments, particularly those with Pendleton and Sand, nearly connect. It will come as no surprise to say the movie fails to create emotional engagement, though Howard scores a few glancing blows with his portrayal of Carmine’s son as a lonely boy desperate to form real human relationships.
         As for the leads, Mature and Redgrave are smooth in different ways—he struts through scenes with a pleasant I-don’t-give-a-shit swagger, and she churns through complicated dialogue with grace. It doesn’t really matter that neither of their characters is remotely believable, since Every Little Crook and Nanny is basically a live-action cartoon. Is the picture frenetic and overstuffed, representing a desperate attempt to substitute constant noise for substance? Of course. And is there any compelling reason for movie fans to seek out this forgotten studio release? Certainly not. But if Every Little Crook or Nanny somehow crosses your path, it will offers 92 minutes of pointless silliness.

Every Little Crook and Nanny: FUNKY

3 comments:

JKruppa said...

Something tells me the title is the most clever thing about this film.

Mike Doran said...

As noted above, Every Little Crook and Nanny is based on a novel by Evan Hunter (aka Ed McBain).

I happened to get this book when it first came out; Hunter usually saved humor for the 'Ed McBain' 87th Precinct books, which caught my notice.

The novel has photo illustrations of the various characters, posed for by Hunter's family and friends - including his father, his three grown sons (all fiercely bearded in late '60s style), his first ex-wife (she's the Nanny), his former father father-in-law, and various other souls from his circle.
Hunter himself posed for one of the characters, a goonish gangster in a stocking mask; he credits himself as 'Ed McBain'.

We're not talking stark realism here; ...Nanny the novel is an out-and-out pulp farce.
As for the movie version, I recall that it sat on various shelves for several years, before its eventual release - which was more like witness protection: as few theaters as possible, in and out in a week.
So There Too.

D said...

It was directed by Cy Howard who had made a splash with the sleeper hit a year or so earlier "Lovers and Other Strangers" He was a well-knowh Hollywood gag writer and made a good living writing (uncredited) special material for a wide array of comedians.