This attempt at a gentle comedy was far too gentle and proved a loser at the box office. Arkin seldom does a film that scores, which is strange considering he's an excellent actor. Here he's a driving instructor, a schlepp who is not terribly bright but good-hearted through his dim wits.
He is kidnaped by would-be singer Kellerman and runaway Phillips, who force him to drive them from Los Angeles to points east. The trio have several incidents, including a few scenes in Las Vegas; then Kellerman runs off with Earl Smith, a country-western band leader. During their trip the
situation alters; the kidnapers and the kidnapee become compadres. They get to Tuscon and Phillips has to go back to her orphanage, a plight that Arkin solves when he convinces the authorities that he is her father. The characters don't have much depth nor does the plot, and the film is only
faintly amusing at times. It could have been a family film if handled differently (and would have probably done better), but the addition of gratuitous foul language brought this an "R" rating from the MPAA and kept parents from bringing their youngsters. Phillips did well in AMERICAN GRAFFITI and
later starred on a TV series, but her bouts with personal dependence habits caused her career to wane, even before she was out of her teens, or thereabouts. Ed Peck, who must have the deepest voice in history, does his usual good work as the blackjack player in the Vegas sequence, and Charles
Martin Smith, another AMERICAN GRAFFITI alumnus, is effective in a short bit as a soldier whom Phillips rolls for his money. Composer Butler's score is aptly bright, and the Nevada star, Prima, is also seen with his band. Prima had been a staple in Vegas, Reno, and Tahoe while married to Keely
Smith. After their divorce he continued working the lounges and she moved up to the big rooms. Butler and composer Charles Fox (FOUL PLAY, etc.) opened their own recording studio in the San Fernando Valley because they were not satisfied with what the other studios had to offer, and the result,
Evergreen Studios, was a huge success.
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