When practicing for a role, actor Jack is mistaken for the killer Ace. He doesn't realize this until it's too late and is carried off to gangster boss Leo Smooth, who wants Ace to do a job for him. Fearing for his life, Jack plays his role, but always searching for a way out of the well-guarded house.
Dick Van Dyke ... Jack Albany
Edward G. Robinson ... Leo Joseph Smooth
Dorothy Provine ... Sally Inwood
Henry Silva ... Frank Boley
Joanna Cook Moore ... Melanie Smooth
Tony Bill ... Florian
Slim Pickens ... Cowboy Schaeffer
Jack Elam ... Ace Williams
Ned Glass ... Rinzy Tobreski
Richard Bakalyan ... Bobby Macoon
Mickey Shaughnessy ... Francis
Philip Coolidge ... Fingers Felton
James Millhollin ... Museum Director
I came across this one while organizing videos my family had taped-I was about to take it out when this started playing. I figured I'd watch a few minutes, see what it was all about, and finish labeling the tapes. Long story short, the project was set aside for another day, and "Never a Dull Moment" became a family favorite! This is a Disney movie from the '60's, and as such represents some of Disney's best, before the days of formulaic family movies. It's not really aimed at children; the story is dialogue-driven, and the lead character's predicament is presented through dramatic irony. Younger viewers may not get it. That all makes it sound heavy, but it's actually incredibly funny. Three major aspects of comedy: physical/slapstick, situational, and verbal. All three are present and woven together in a way that certainly held my attention. I can't speak for everyone, but the title rings true for me, over and over!
The acting is solid all around. Dick Van Dyke steals the show as Jack Albany, an actor mistaken for renowned hit man Ace Williams (played by Jack Elam). Van Dyke is at his comedic best. Presumptious Florian (Tony Bill), having never seen Ace, makes the mistake, forcing Jack into a situation where his survival depends on his acting. On some level this movie pokes fun at the typical mob story. You have the boss, the tough guy, the inept guy, the pro pickpocket, the driver, the dumb broad, and the kid. The actors play their stereotyped parts well, highlights being Tony Bill and Joanna Moore. This may be the best role Tony Bill ever played-his other roles just seem flat in comparison to this punk, who changes from a creepy armed henchman to a whining, flinching doormat depending on how much trouble he's in. Bill has, however, become a successful producer/director. Edward G. Robinson seems to relish playing Joe Smooth, a powerful, art-loving mob boss who may be losing it a bit mentally. Dorothy Provine is good, also, as Smooth's art teacher, but my biggest beef with the movie is the part of the script where she explains her connection to the boss. It works, but it could have been better.
Overall I recommend this movie. It's no cinematic triumph, but it is good, clean fun, and it is very funny! Most parents are probably aware, but for those that aren't, the ratings system has changed since the '60's. This one was G in that time period, when smoking was commonplace and violence in the movies wasn't the issue that it is in the 21st century. Not that one era is better than another (I honestly can't fathom why Ice Age and Over the Hedge are PG movies), but this one has some PG material by today's standards. An engaging story with lots of laughs!
Never A Dull Moment provided Hollywood icon Edward G. Robinson with the opportunity to do things. Add a Walt Disney movie to his list of screen credits and allow him to do a film about his passionate avocation, that of art collector.
Robinson combines it with the last of gangster roles, that of Leo Joseph Smooth, both gangster and art collector. Robinson is pretty much retired from the day to day business of running a criminal enterprise, kind of like Vito Corleone only he's pulling himself back in for one last go.
He has it mind to own a large mural that is being shipped to the United States for exhibit so he's going to steal it. With that in mind he hires a whole lot of his old gang back plus a couple of extra hands.
Which is where Dick Van Dyke comes in. For reasons I cannot fathom, Tony Bill mistakes actor Dick Van Dyke with hoodlum Jack Elam. To save his life Van Dyke goes along with the mistake for almost the entire run of the film as he's taken to Robinson's well guarded home. Van Dyke calls on all his acting skills to convince Robinson and his whole gang he's really a hoodlum.
Fortunately for him he meets up with Dorothy Provine who's an art teacher that Robinson hired to improve him culturally. The two of them have a whale of a time trying to get out before the caper comes off.
Never A Dull Moment has a few good laughs and also in Disney studio's tradition at that time, employs a nice range of film character actors who were finding less and less work as the studios were putting out less and less product for the big screen.
It does rest however on the weak premise that Dick Van Dyke could possibly be mistaken for Jack Elam. In that it's weak indeed.
After several years of phenomenal TV success counterbalanced with a movie career that ranged from good ("Bye Bye Birdie" "Mary Poppins") to so-so ("Fitzwilly") to Gawd-awful ("Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N."), Dick Van Dyke went back to Disney for the third time on four years for "Never a Dull Moment," with results that could best be described as mixed.
Now, whenever Hollywood decides to use this all-purpose title, as it had at least four times before, beware, as the film is generally duller that usual. "Never a Dull Moment," lives up to its title, thanks primarily to Van Dyke and a solid supporting cast. Edward G. Robinson, Dorothy Provine (just before her simultaneous retirement and marriage), Henry Silva, Tony Bill, Jack Elam, and Slim Pickens all do as well in their roles as the script permits.
And there's the rub. A.J. Crothers, although the Disney people used him several times, was never one of the more inspired writers of comedy, and his films with Disney suffer for it. The cast and director Jerry Paris, a Van Dyke Show veteran on both sides of the camera, give it their best, but a limp script keeps undoing all their efforts.
In short, you, and Van Dyke, could do worse than "Never a Dull Moment," but you could do a whole lot better, too.
# Director Cameo: [Jerry Paris] Police Photographer
# When Albany is being taken to meet the Boss, the car he's in passes several movie houses. On the marquees you can see the names of several cast members, such as Henry Silva, starring in gangster pictures.