Foul Play (1978)

“It’s just a training film-purely educational.”

Foul Play is a delightful romantic thriller from the 70s that’s managed to stand the test of time. Gloria Mundy (Goldie Hawn) is a recently divorced librarian who’s told by a friend that she needs to “take a chance.” After leaving a party, she drives home alone and taking her friend’s advice literally, she decides to take a chance and picks up hitchhiker, Scottie (Bruce Solomon). Gloria agrees to meet Scottie for a date, and soon she finds herself embroiled in an assassination plot organized by an underground revolutionary group. “Taking a chance” introduces Gloria to adventure, danger, and ultimately romance, as she’s soon pursued by a sinister scar faced villain, an albino, a dwarf, and a lonely conductor, Stanley Tibbetts (Dudley Moore).

Foul Play is a fun-filled, light-hearted escapist film, and its silly moments just add to the overall enjoyment. Gloria is a great character–her innocence and vulnerability draw her into trouble, and yet these are also the facets of her character that offer her a strange sort of protection. Detective Tony Carlson (Chevy Chase) is on hand to give Gloria all the protection she needs, and the film does a marvelous job of showing the magic of falling in love.

The supporting cast adds to the film’s mood–there’s Brian Dennehy as Fergie, Tony’s world-weary partner who writes Gloria off as a dingy nut case. Burgess Meredith plays Mr. Hennessey, Gloria’s martial arts savvy landlord, and Marilyn Sokol plays Gloria’s armed friend, Stella. But Dudley Moore steals the film and adds the funniest moments in his role as the lonely Stanley Tibbetts. He really can’t believe his luck when Gloria drags him back to his bachelor lair, and his surprise is soon replaced by eagerness. The scene when Dudley Moore dances to Staying Alive  has to be seen to be believed, and there are times I watch this scene just to cheer myself up. The film includes the theme song sung by Barry Manilow and gorgeous scenes of the spectacular Northern California coastline. From director Colin Higgins.

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