“To work that hard would be unfair to your rabbit – but I can see that you’re sincere.”
From the opening sequence, in which both Smothers and his assistant (a delightful John Astin) distractedly ignore a phone call warning that a bomb is about to go off in their building, to Smothers’ equally bizarre encounter shortly thereafter with an overly solicitous piano tuner, it’s clear that Jordan Crittenden’s screenplay will continue to take us in decidedly unexpected directions.
Indeed, it’s refreshing to watch a counter-cultural story so grounded in satirical “mainstream” reality: Smothers doesn’t (as predicted) go off to drop out and smoke pot; instead, he very much has a real working alternative in mind, one he knows will provide him with the “seedy” lifestyle he truly craves. As fate would have it, he turns out to be a pretty dismal magician (though this doesn’t deter him in the slightest); fortunately we’re spared from seeing him perform all that often.
Instead, two different subplots unfold: in one, Smothers woos a nameless “terrific-looking girl” (Katharine Ross) who’s fallen head-over-heels for his “heroic” hands; in the other, Astin pursues a relentless drive to build up a new company around Smothers’ anarchic notion of “living life from the gut level”. Naturally, the two stories eventually collide, resulting in a most satisfying conclusion to a bizarrely entertaining fairytale.
Note: Be forewarned that Welles’ role is essentially a cameo — he only shows up in a few scenes, and then disappears forever.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: