11 Harrowhouse Aram Avakian

11 Harrowhouse Aram Avakian
I kind of miss the days when any movie that didn't feature a corset or Shelley Long had a slow motion scene of a car driving off a cliff, exploding upon impact. They were simpler times when issues of plausibility and audience formula familiarity were secondary to ensuring you had a kick-ass trailer to play at the drive-in. Said trailer for the 1974 Charles Grodin heist movie, 11 Harrowhouse, is the sole supplement on the DVD release and, to be candid, is almost better than the movie, summarizing the entire plot from beginning to end, leaving no actual twist or event unspoiled. Not just one but two cars explode in the trailer, while simple diamond purchaser Howard Chesser (Grodin) gets wrapped up in a plot to smuggle the world's supply of diamonds from the titular location after being duped by shady millionaire Clyde Massey (Trevor Howard). Along for the ride is adventure enthusiast Maren Shirell (Candice Bergen), who exclaims, "I'm not risky; I'm skilful!" while speeding down the road in a fancy sports car. We also learn in the trailer that painted cockroaches and an enormous vacuum are somehow involved in the heist, which, incidentally, will "be like no robbery you've ever imagined." After watching the film, I have to wonder if everything not included in the up-front promo was shot after the fact just to fill the running time. Most of it is anti-establishment voiceover from a meek protagonist talking of supply-demand risk and embarrassing prestige envy, going the typical '70s route of bashing the system. Some of his witticisms do prove quite comical, dryly assessing the peculiarity of everyone around him and the absurdity of his predicament, but most of them repeatedly foreshadow things to come. This would be fine if something great was impending, but the actual heist is uneventful, aside from the crazy resourcefulness of hand-painted cockroaches. The low-key Avengers handling of the material makes it far more engaging than it should be, even if it is essentially throwaway drive-in fare. On the upside, seeing Murphy Brown play a sexy love interest is both amusing and a little disturbing. And now that I think about it, Outrageous Fortune might have featured a scene of a car driving off a cliff and exploding, or maybe I'm mistaking that with Shelley Long jumping across the "devil's fingers." (Shout! Factory)