On some weekend
nights in my youth, or on some lazy afternoons, I'd flip
through the television channels on my family's 13-inch
Sears television. Under the guise of "the late movie,"
or "the million dollar movie," movies shown during those
channel surfing days and nights were usually not very
good. And yet there was something kind of fun about
watching obscure flicks. I don't remember seeing Sid
Ceaser in the William Castle movie, "The Busy Body"
(1967), but it certainly qualifies as a candidate for
those "million dollar movies."
"The Busy Body" is now available for the first time on DVD.
Director William Castle helmed this production. He was most known for his showmanship on the cheap during the 1950s and 1960s. He directed "The House on Haunted Hill" (1959), and "The Tingler" (1960). The latter gave select audience members an electric shock whenever the tingler showed up on screen. He also directed "13 Ghosts" (1960). Some of Castle's films were remade in recent years with poor results. Bigger budgets and hipper attitudes usually don't make up for the cheap charm of Castle's movies.
"The Busy Body" looks like it's a bigger budget film for Castle, and an attempt to break into mainstream studio filmmaking. Having Sid Caeser, Dom DeLuise, Ann Baxter, Robert Ryan, and a young Richard Pryor aboard, you'd think that Castle would pull off a pretty good production. The production isn't too bad, and the acting and direction aren't too bad. With a stronger script, Castle and Co. might've had a farce on-par with many of the era's comedy movies. Unfortunately, the movie falls pretty flat.
The plot involves a mama's boy (Sid Caeser) who's promoted by mob boss, Robert Ryan. In a plot that's surprisingly convoluted, Ceaser finds himself in a murder whodunit. What is admirable about the production is that most of the actors give 100% to their roles. The plot and dialogue are rickety, and the cinematography is brightly lit (like many films of the day), but at least the actors seem like they're having a good time.
Watching "The Busy Body" isn't torture by any means. If you were around when television stations ran movies like this, you might appreciate the innocence and goofy nature of the movie.
Special thanks to Maria Mason and Legend Films
Photos: © Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved.
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