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Watch Out, We're Mad
(1973)
 

Director:Marcello Fondato                      
Cast:
Terence Hill, Bud Spencer, Donald Pleasence


There will always be some people, I guess, who will say of the movies that pair Terence Hill and Bud Spencer, "If you've seen one, you've seen them all." I don't consider the movies in this way at all, including Watch Out, We're Mad. Yes, this entry of theirs has Hill playing a happy-go-lucky fellow who romances a woman at one point, and Spencer playing a surly fellow who just wants to be left alone. Yes, Hill here keeps pestering Spencer until they team up together. And yes, there are slapstick fights along the way against a particular gang, climaxing in a spectacular fight in an notable area. But there are big differences - for one thing, this movie takes place in Spain, not Italy or America. And here they play race car drivers instead of cops, cowboys, truckers, or drifters. Okay, it really isn't that much different in spirit than their other films, but so what? The formula still works, and though it isn't one of their best efforts, it was still nice seeing them do the same old things again.

Somewhere in Spain, off-road race car driver Ben (Spencer) is anticipating the next race he will be in, because of the prize - a red dune buggy ("With a yellow top", as it's described many times in the movie) that's hideously tacky in a way that only the '70s could have manufactured it. However, he does not count on "The Kid" (Hill) entering the competition, and he also has a talent for the sport - and an eye on that same ugly dune buggy. We cut to the race, and each man battles furiously to the finish line. But in a surprise, they both end up tying for first place, and they are both awarded the dune buggy. Of course, sharing is out of the question, so they soon get to a serious discussion as to how it should be decided as to who gets the buggy. Cards, ace high? No, Ben isn't good at cards. Arm wrestle? Just a look at Ben has The Kid turning down that idea. It is soon decided that there is only one way two gentlemen can resolve such a pressing conflict - a hot dog and beer contest. ("You eat a hot dog, then drink a beer, eat a hot dog, drink a beer..." helpfully explains The Kid.) It is agreed, so they go next door from Ben's garage to the restaurant in a fairground. In a way that I can't possibly describe with the proper justice, they start packing away hot dogs between mugs of beer, trying to be subtle in both their gluttony and showing the other they are the superior one, all without saying a word and being classy about their business. No wonder this scene has become legendary among Hill/Spencer fans.

Of course, it is hard for any refined gentleman to engage in a hot dog a beer contest when suddenly several well dressed goons enter the area and immediately start to violently smash the furniture, windows, and walls all around them. Eventually, they break their silence and mutually decide to leave the establishment after the activity proves too distracting (and with the restaurant barely standing up), making a promise to continue the contest later. However, just a few minutes later, it seems that any contest would be pointless, for the goons wreck the red dune buggy (with the yellow top) racing away from the area. This seriously irks the two, so they visit the child-like mobster leader demanding a new red dune buggy (with a yellow top), warning him, "You've got until noon - or we'll get mad!"

The mobster leader is told "Neinneinnein!" by his advisor, known as "The Doctor" (Pleasence), who has a stake in the operation. In a thick German accent, he keeps telling his boss, "Being evil is a virtue!" and "You must be more wicked!", and advises his boss to send everyone from a motorcycle gang to a Chicago hit man to stop the men. Though he doesn't know about the resourcefulness and quick wit of the duo. Those who have thought Pleasence has overacted in movies before simply haven't seen how he acts here. During the course of the movie we see him throw his hands to his face, pound the table, and lay on the thickness of his accent with a trowel. It makes his performance in House Of Usher look remarkably restrained. Of course, it's a lot of fun to watch, and so are the performances of our favorite duo. Spencer actually gets a bit more to do in this movie. There are times where his character suddenly has a smile on his face, then quickly shakes it off, not wanting anyone to see he's having fun. Also, we get to hear him (or at least the well chosen dubbing voice) sing, when he practices and participates in the choir he's in. Naturally, the songs that are sung just consist of "la"s, because of the international market), but that in itself is a hoot to hear, and the choir scene is another legendary sequence, where Spencer has to deal with his singing, the interference of Hill, and the Chicago hit man all at the same time.

Hill, on the other hand, overall doesn't stretch as much here. He's given yet another boring romantic subplot, here with a pretty tightrope walker from the fairgrounds. Not only is it pretty drab, but it's suddenly forgotten after 2/3 or so of the movie have passed, and never brought up again. On the other hand, the movie gives him an excuse to show off his acrobatic skills. The motorcycle chase sequence clearly shows it is Hill, and not a stuntman, doing some very risky moves on that motorbike. (The scene also has him participating in a hilarious parody of The Good The Bad And The Ugly.) And there are the fight scenes. In one scene in a gymnasium (which happens to be on the fairgrounds - huh?), he and Spencer beat the crap out of the mobsters there, and Hill does some lightning-fast maneuvers on gymnast bars that are quite a sight to see.

The fight scenes in this movie are some of the best fights Hill and Spencer have been in. They are not only funny, but directed with vigor and speed, making each blow have us thinking "Wow!" and "Ow!" at the same time. There is a problem with the fights - there are not enough of them. If these fight scenes weren't as high qualityWatch it - they're mad! as they are here, I would have a serious problem with this movie. That is not to say they are perfect - the final punch-up, brutal and swift as it is, is somewhat spoiled by the area being filled with an incredible number of multi-colored balloons. Not only are the colors a visual distraction, the balloons themselves block a lot of what's going on when they start getting thrown into the air. It's still a good fight, and what is really most impressive is the amount of destruction the boys make before they engage in the final punch-up.

Whenever there is an action scene - cars racing, fists flying - director Marcello Fondato really shines. The opening car race is incredible, with a number of wrecked cars and various stunts coming one after another in a rat-tat-tat manner. There are some "Huh?" scenes where cars are suddenly in different places because of sloppy editing. Also, I have to wonder if the movie was originally longer, because there are some things that suddenly happen that don't quite make sense, not just that romantic subplot that abruptly ends. At one point, we all of a sudden see the boys dancing at a club. And there is a strong indication in the beginning of the movie that the boys know each other from the past, but this is never explained. This confusion, plus a more meandering and less action-filled script makes this not one of the best Terence Hill / Bud Spencer movies, but it does have its moments of merit that make it worth watching, and even a weaker movie from this duo is a lot better than a lot of movies out there.

Check for availability on Amazon (DVD)
Check Amazon for music from this and other Hill/Spencer movies (CD)

See also: Crime Busters, Mr. Billion, Renegade

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