Never a Dull Moment (1968) Poster

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Unusual, Entertaining mob comedy
zannalee026 March 2007
I came across this one while organizing videos my family had taped-I was about to take it out when this started playing. I figured I'd watch a few minutes, see what it was all about, and finish labeling the tapes. Long story short, the project was set aside for another day, and "Never a Dull Moment" became a family favorite! This is a Disney movie from the '60's, and as such represents some of Disney's best, before the days of formulaic family movies. It's not really aimed at children; the story is dialogue-driven, and the lead character's predicament is presented through dramatic irony. Younger viewers may not get it. That all makes it sound heavy, but it's actually incredibly funny. Three major aspects of comedy: physical/slapstick, situational, and verbal. All three are present and woven together in a way that certainly held my attention. I can't speak for everyone, but the title rings true for me, over and over!

The acting is solid all around. Dick Van Dyke steals the show as Jack Albany, an actor mistaken for renowned hit man Ace Williams (played by Jack Elam). Van Dyke is at his comedic best. Presumptious Florian (Tony Bill), having never seen Ace, makes the mistake, forcing Jack into a situation where his survival depends on his acting. On some level this movie pokes fun at the typical mob story. You have the boss, the tough guy, the inept guy, the pro pickpocket, the driver, the dumb broad, and the kid. The actors play their stereotyped parts well, highlights being Tony Bill and Joanna Moore. This may be the best role Tony Bill ever played-his other roles just seem flat in comparison to this punk, who changes from a creepy armed henchman to a whining, flinching doormat depending on how much trouble he's in. Bill has, however, become a successful producer/director. Edward G. Robinson seems to relish playing Joe Smooth, a powerful, art-loving mob boss who may be losing it a bit mentally. Dorothy Provine is good, also, as Smooth's art teacher, but my biggest beef with the movie is the part of the script where she explains her connection to the boss. It works, but it could have been better.

Overall I recommend this movie. It's no cinematic triumph, but it is good, clean fun, and it is very funny! Most parents are probably aware, but for those that aren't, the ratings system has changed since the '60's. This one was G in that time period, when smoking was commonplace and violence in the movies wasn't the issue that it is in the 21st century. Not that one era is better than another (I honestly can't fathom why Ice Age and Over the Hedge are PG movies), but this one has some PG material by today's standards. An engaging story with lots of laughs!
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Never A Dull Moment gives what the title promises
seekhimfrst12 August 2007
This movie, starring the gifted actor, Dick Van Dyke, is an unsullied comedy full of humor and plot. Creative scenes flow in this film with a unique twist on classic situations. Though it is an older film, it surpasses most films hitting theaters today in acting and storyline. Jack displays courage and wit without losing the "just the average guy" way about him. Sincere facial expressions by Dick Van Dyke, and strong comedic timing sell this story from beginning to end. You will finish this movie feeling like you have stepped into "Jack's" shoes and gone on this escapade with him. With a touch of action, romance, suspense, and a delightful twist, this comedy is well worth your time.
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Read the Book
john19531 April 2005
Although the movie is saved by Dick Van Dyke and Edward G. Robinson, it is not nearly as entertaining as "A Thrill a Minute With Jack Albany" (original book title). The movie brought on smiles whereas the book had me laughing out loud. If you haven't seen the movie or read the book, watch the movie first. The hilarity will quadruple from the screen to the page. {Best that way instead of the reverse) If you plan on enjoying only one, then take the book over the film. An excellent job of converting what was written to the cinema. Dick Van Dyke was Jack Albany. No one else could come to mind when picturing the character. But I'm a sucker for most of Van Dyke's stuff. He's best playing some form of Rob Petrie, from Bye Bye Birdie to Some Kind of Nut.
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Classic Disney and Dick Van Dyke--Great Combo
wordsmith_5718 November 2008
Having grown up in the sixties, and having an older brother willing to take me to see the latest Disney movie, I'm surprised I never saw this one. Though it's from the late sixties, and the plot by today's standards is overdone and predicable, it's still a fun one to watch. Edward G. Robinson plays a tough mob boss, and has a gang of familiar character actors making up his mob: Mickey Shaughnessy, Henry Silva, Slim Pickens, to name a couple,who are out to steal a famous painting in order to create the heist so history will remember Robinson's character, Joe Smooth. Along comes Dick Van Dyke, mistaken for the ultimate killer, Ace Williams. A "B" actor, Van Dyke's character Jack manages to pull off the role. Throw in a captive art teacher, a sequence with Jack Elam as the real Ace Williams, and a hilarious chase in an art museum, and you've got an entertaining 99 minute film. Rated G, it's a family show, but watch it to enjoy Dick Van Dyke. He lends his talents admirably and shows why he remains one our funniest actors that came to grace both TV and the film industry. Classic Disney and Dick Van Dyke--you can't go wrong with that combo.
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Cultural Improvements
bkoganbing27 January 2007
Never A Dull Moment provided Hollywood icon Edward G. Robinson with the opportunity to do things. Add a Walt Disney movie to his list of screen credits and allow him to do a film about his passionate avocation, that of art collector.

Robinson combines it with the last of gangster roles, that of Leo Joseph Smooth, both gangster and art collector. Robinson is pretty much retired from the day to day business of running a criminal enterprise, kind of like Vito Corleone only he's pulling himself back in for one last go.

He has it mind to own a large mural that is being shipped to the United States for exhibit so he's going to steal it. With that in mind he hires a whole lot of his old gang back plus a couple of extra hands.

Which is where Dick Van Dyke comes in. For reasons I cannot fathom, Tony Bill mistakes actor Dick Van Dyke with hoodlum Jack Elam. To save his life Van Dyke goes along with the mistake for almost the entire run of the film as he's taken to Robinson's well guarded home. Van Dyke calls on all his acting skills to convince Robinson and his whole gang he's really a hoodlum.

Fortunately for him he meets up with Dorothy Provine who's an art teacher that Robinson hired to improve him culturally. The two of them have a whale of a time trying to get out before the caper comes off.

Never A Dull Moment has a few good laughs and also in Disney studio's tradition at that time, employs a nice range of film character actors who were finding less and less work as the studios were putting out less and less product for the big screen.

It does rest however on the weak premise that Dick Van Dyke could possibly be mistaken for Jack Elam. In that it's weak indeed.
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Good film but misunderstood by many viewers of it
carnoce9 April 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The plot is as follows: Jack Albany --comic actor who ironically usually plays heavies-- walks off the set of stereotypical gangster TV movie still wearing his mobster outfit costume. He meets a young punk, named Florian, who confuses Jack for a hit man the former was expecting but has never seen. Jack calls upon his best acting skills to pretend to be the hit man (known only as Ace Williams). He and Florian hightail it back to cultured gangster Joe Smooth's mansion. There, while still pretending to be Ace, Jack learns of a Smooth-plot to steal a painting from the Manhatten Museum of Art the next day. "Ace" has the task of killing one or two Museum guards to make the theft possible. Jack makes the acquaintance of Smooth's comely female art instructor. A romance quickly develops between the two. To sum it all up Jack and the instructor then manage to foil the heist, get Smooth and all his henchmen arrested and the new couple live happily ever after (with Jack BTW getting favorable heist-foiling publicity which will undoubtedly help his acting career).

Now to the misunderstanding part I wrote of in the title. This film is slightly dull--but on purpose. Ironic to its title. It is supposed to be about the difference between stereotypical-film gangster situations and real life gangsters. When the film opened up taking place on the set of a gangster movie the film Jack and the other actors are making looks all clichéd with a big, melodramatic shootout at the end of the story. There are no such theatrics when Jack is foiling the "real" gangster heist at the Museum --just a lot of talk and clumsy chasing and stumbling (perhaps more like it would really happen). The "real" gangsters are superbly drawn out (even to the point of some of them (like "Cowboy" Schaefer) possibly being slightly boring but hey they are supposed to be more like real life hoods and they aren't supposed to exist for just two hours to entertain us). In short, the misunderstanding was that no viewers who commented on here before seemed to realize it was all supposed to drag (once Jack leaves the movie set) in the name of realism. The realism is also heightened and contrasted by the very small, enclosed movie set Jack was on early versus the very large, ceiling-included mansion he later finds himself in while pretending to be Ace. Also, when the real Ace Williams actually later shows up he is wearing a then-modern 1960's two-piece business suit--contrasting sharply with the stereotyped gangster way Jack is dressed (see above).

(What is wrong with Dick Van Dyke (Jack Albany) being mistaken for Jack Elam (the real Ace Williams)? Nobody in the film was supposed to know in the slightest what the authentic hit man looked like.)
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hardbop-5212513 January 2019
Great movie.... genuinely funny story and great cast Hoping this comes out on Blu-ray at some point. Nothing offensive, just great fun.
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Even if you can go back again, should you?
BobLib22 April 2001
After several years of phenomenal TV success counterbalanced with a movie career that ranged from good ("Bye Bye Birdie" "Mary Poppins") to so-so ("Fitzwilly") to Gawd-awful ("Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N."), Dick Van Dyke went back to Disney for the third time on four years for "Never a Dull Moment," with results that could best be described as mixed.

Now, whenever Hollywood decides to use this all-purpose title, as it had at least four times before, beware, as the film is generally duller that usual. "Never a Dull Moment," lives up to its title, thanks primarily to Van Dyke and a solid supporting cast. Edward G. Robinson, Dorothy Provine (just before her simultaneous retirement and marriage), Henry Silva, Tony Bill, Jack Elam, and Slim Pickens all do as well in their roles as the script permits.

And there's the rub. A.J. Crothers, although the Disney people used him several times, was never one of the more inspired writers of comedy, and his films with Disney suffer for it. The cast and director Jerry Paris, a Van Dyke Show veteran on both sides of the camera, give it their best, but a limp script keeps undoing all their efforts.

In short, you, and Van Dyke, could worse than "Never a Dull Moment," but you could do a whole lot better, too.
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Not a bad premise, but it is a bad movie....
MartinHafer24 February 2011
The only reason I saw this film is because Edward G. Robinson was in it. However, had I known that it was actually a dopey Disney film, I probably would have skipped it. While the studio today is well-respected, in the late 60s and 70s their output was, to put it charitably, crap.

The film begins with Dick Van Dyke playing a character actor who has played, among other things, a lot of gangster roles in movies and TV. However, he's not a particularly famous actor, so when he's mistaken as a REAL gangster he's stuck. They expect him to kill security guards and help them in an art heist--and he just wants to run away and save himself. Can he somehow get out of this alive? While the premise is pretty cute, the execution of the film was pretty bad. Too many broadly acted scenes (like Van Dyke's VERY exaggerated drunk act) really brought the film to a grinding halt--as did the terribly slapsticky and ridiculous ending. Even the kids must have groaned at this one! A total waste of talent and a film I had a hard time finishing.
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Some sophisticated comedic passages, but it becomes too silly...
moonspinner551 July 2016
Dick Van Dyke acquits himself nicely in colorful role as card-carrying member of the Screen Actors Guild who is mistaken for a gangster and is roped into an art-heist led by a famous mobster. Comedy from the Disney Studios, adapted from a book by John Godey, has some clever, witty writing in the earliest scenes; however, as with most of Disney's live-action output from this era, the narrative relies far too much on slapstick action to amuse the audience. Edward G. Robinson prods his own movie past with tongue-in-cheek portrayal of Joe Smooth, gangland boss and art lover; Dorothy Provine is perky as an art teacher who believes Van Dyke's outlandish story; and Joanna Moore is very funny as Robinson's show-biz crazy spouse, a former skater once featured in a production of "Scandals On Ice"! The second-half of the picture is comprised mainly of sight-gags and mugging and running around, while Robert Brunner's cartoony score is nearly identical to his music from 1965's "That Darn Cat!" Still, the set-up here is amusing, director Jerry Paris sets a fast pace and the production is good despite over-lit interiors. ** from ****
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Accurate Title... Read on to Find Out Why
Waiting2BShocked8 September 2005
The title is quite true. There is never a dull 'moment' in this film, simply because the entire movie consists of 100 dull minutes. Van Dyke plays a bit-part actor who becomes entangled with gangster/mob type caricatures stealing a valuable painting, and other such dross. (On that note the film is about as lacklustre as the 1965 co-production 'Theft Of The Mona Lisa'). The director seems to have been offered an entirely different script to the one offering the audience alleged 'comedy', which is regrettably confined to Van Dyke's "unique" brand of muggery (eg Lt Robinson Crusoe, 1966).

Ed G Robinsons presence is not even worth mentioning, in the hope that it can be overlooked in summation of his career's overall contribution to American movie history and development.

An inept, feeble-minded vomition of the sort of pap that elucidates any mystery surrounding why such a tycoon as Walt D should have ended up bankrupt.
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