Following the release of his sleazy feature debut, What Do You Say to a Naked Lady? (1970), producer/director/host Allen Funt made one more attempt at shifting his small-screen Candid Camera franchise to the world’s cinemas. Alas, while Money Talks is less inherently exploitive than its predecessor, the rambling quasi-documentary offers only the slimmest of rewards for viewers who trudge through all 81 minutes. Even more so than the previous film, Money Talks is an extended Candid Camera episode, featuring hidden-camera footage, staged gags during which actors coached by Funt interact with unsuspecting passersby, and man-on-the-street interviews. All of the material concerns modern Americans’ relationship with money—those who crave it, those who shun it, and so on. This is a worthy topic for serious study, to be sure, but with Funt at the helm, serious study is not the order of the day. Rather, the film features gags such as an attractive woman standing on a New York City street with a dollar bill pinned to the seat of her jeans; Funt uses a hidden camera to see which people try to grab the cash, which people try to grab the girl, and which people kindly inform the young woman of her situation. The novelty of the bit lasts all of about 30 seconds, but the sequence drags on repetitiously for several minutes. And so it goes with other vignettes, like the set-up featuring Muhammad Ali pretending he’s too cheap to pay for a C.O.D. package, much to the consternation of folks tasked with delivering the item to the heavyweight champ. Probably the most interesting sequence involves Funt talking to hippies about their counterculture attitudes toward currency; it’s interesting to watch straight-laced Funt’s brain shut down when shaggy kids say naïvely idealistic things like, “I believe in working for mankind, to keep mankind going—I just believe in working on life.” Unfortunately, the film’s credible content is outweighed by crap including montages set to horrifically bad original songs. For instance, during a sequence for which Funt rigged a parking meter to spew coins in order to trigger reactions from pedestrians, a singer croons the following inanities on the soundtrack: “He hits the jackpot and nickels fall like rain/ He bends down to pick them up but his pants can’t stand the strain.” Any questions why there wasn’t another Candid Camera flick after this one?
Money Talks: FUNKY