Don't Make Waves - 1967
Tony Curtis (as Carlo Cofield), comes from New York City to Southern California, crossing the continent in a Volkswagen Beetle, arrives at a beautiful overlook at Malibu Beach, gets out to stretch his legs, and Claudia Cardinale (as Laura Califatti) backs out of an adjoining parking space in her car, clips the VW Beetle, which knocks it out of gear and rolling backwards down the hillside. Cofield helplessly tries to stop his descending vehicle in a long sequence that would have played just as perfectly in a Buster Keaton or Harold Lloyd film.
The out of control car finally crashes onto its roof on the roadway below, blocking the path of the oblivious Laura Califatti in her convertible (which we shortly will learn is part of her endowment as a kept woman to philandering businessman Rod Prescott (played by Robert Webber). Cofield and Califatti argue about who is at fault for the wrecked car, and she inadvertently sets the Beetle's spilled gasoline on fire which then burns the vehicle and everything Cofield owns (this scene seems quite reminiscent to the later 1990 movie The Freshman, in which the story hero arrives in New York City and within a matter of minutes is completely ruined).
The film doesn't stay in classic comedy mode, though, but quickly converts to a bedroom farce about adultery and selling swimming pools under California's golden sun. In the process Tony Curtis' character (Cofield) is revealed as a typical slick and smarmy salesman, much in the way of other Curtis' film portrayals, and he might only seem charming and 'good' by contrast to chief liar and philanderer Rod Prescott, his boss in the swimming pool racket.
The California beach culture is the main backdrop of the movie, but it's denizens are portrayed as almost subhuman in their innocence, easily conned by Curtis' character. In some horrible way, it is as if they are Eloi and Curtis' (and Robert Webber's character) are Morlochs.
This division of people into almost tribal groups recalls Director Mackendrick's slightly similar, though much darker and better made Sweet Smell of Success, 1957.
Original Page Jan 14, 2015