Saturday, April 1, 2023

#2,903. Who's Minding the Mint? (1967) - 1967 Comedies Triple Feature


Director Howard Morris assembled an all-star cast for Who’s Minding the Mint?. Along with Milton Berle and Dorothy Provine (who four years earlier played husband and wife in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World), the film featured Rat Pack regular Joey Bishop; the underrated Jack Gilford (he was great in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum); Hollywood veteran Walter Brennan; Victor Buono; Jamie Farr; and Gilligan himself, Bob Denver.

Quite a comedic line-up there, right? So, imagine my surprise when I discovered that the star of the movie was... Jim Hutton!

That’s no slam on Hutton’s abilities. He was quite good in Peckinpah’s Major Dundee as well as the 1973 TV horror film Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. But as the headliner for a supporting cast like this? I feared he may have been out of his element.

But I was wrong. Hutton holds his own as Harry Lucas, a selfish “live for today” playboy who works for the U.S. Treasury in Washington D.C., and makes a mistake that, if uncovered, could land him in prison.

While disposing of some terrible fudge that lovestruck co-worker Verna (Provine) made for him, Harry accidentally destroys $50,000 in newly minted bills! His boss, Samson Link (David J. Stewart), already doesn’t trust Harry, and is sure he has been doctoring the books and swiping gobs of cash. But Harry is innocent of any wrongdoing… until now!

Desperate to replace the money, Harry comes up with a scheme to break into the building at night through the sewer system and have his old friend Pop (Brennan), a former printer for the Treasury, run him off $50k in cash so he can replace the money and keep his job.

Of course, they’re going to need some help to pull it off, specifically from safecracker and former convict Dugan (Gilford), who is the only one that can open the safe where the currency plates are stored. One slight hitch, however: after 10 years of working a noisy prison metal press, poor Dugan is practically deaf!

So, it's off to a pawn shop owned by Luther (Berle) to pick up a used hearing aid. A natural con man, Luther gets wind of the scheme and demands to be cut in. Also recruited to help are Ralph (Bishop), a compulsive gambler who knows the sewers; a former sea captain (Buono) to build them a boat (the sewers get pretty deep in that area of D.C.); and ice cream truck driver Willie (Denver), who must distract Imogene (Jackie Joseph), a busybody living in an apartment overlooking the manhole where they will enter the sewers.

But just as it all seems to be coming together, Harry’s partners, who initially agreed to help for $2,000 apiece, decide they want more.

How much more? A million each!

His back against the wall, Harry has no choice but to give in, and hopes that Verna, who also agreed to help him out of this pickle, won’t turn them in when Pop starts running off more $100 bills than she was promised.

He may not get as many laughs as his co-stars, but Hutton makes for a likable lead. We want to see Harry get out of this jam, and feel for him when his partners prove greedier than he ever imagined.

That said, he is outshined at almost every turn by the supporting cast. The standouts are Berle as the shifty Luther, the ringleader who convinces the others they deserve more than $2,000; Gilford as the hearing-impaired crook whose loud “whispers” almost give the caper away on more than one occasion; and Buono, whose over-the-top accent should have gotten old after a while, but instead managed to make his character more endearing.

As for the comedy, it is not side-splitting stuff, but the movie has its moments. Most of which are in the final act, when the break-in is in full swing. A subplot involving Pop’s very pregnant dog, who he brings along so he does not miss the birth, results in some tensely funny scenes when the pooch wanders off.

Though not as laugh-out-loud funny as other ‘60s star-studded comedies like It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, The Russians Are Coming The Russians Are Coming, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Who’s Minding the Mint? is pleasantly entertaining, and a movie that, even if it doesn’t linger long in your memory, you’ll be happy you watched.
Rating: 7 out of 10

1 comment:

Tommy Ross said...

a favorite of mine and your review is spot-on!