Brian De Palma’s first studio film. Tom Smothers plays a burned-out corporate exec who quits his high-paying job to become a tap-dancing magician.
It features the same absurdist humor found in De Palma’s earlier comedies but plays to a broader audience. Smothers plays his part so deadpan I’m not sure he was onboard for De Palma’s vision, but the performance works. He ambles through the film a hapless pawn in a world determined to rob him of agency. And I loved John Astin as his incompetent but opportunistic boss. Heck, even Orson Welles’s phoned-in performance works.
But I couldn’t help but wish the satire packed more bite. It flirts with a dark undercurrent throughout but never commits. I’d hoped De Palma was saving this for the ending, ala Hi Mom, and perhaps he did, but the studio re-cut the film without him, so we may never know.