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  Nasty Rabbit, The Cheers Big Ears
Year: 1964
Director: James Landis
Stars: Mischa Terr, Arch Hall Jr, Liz Renay, Arch Hall Sr, Hal Bizzy, Jack Little, Ray Vegas, John Akana, Sharon Ryker, Hal Bokar, Richard Kiel
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  2 (from 1 vote)
Review: A team of Soviet spies have sailed their submarine close to the North American shore and their leader, Marshall Malout (Arch Hall Sr) gives his lead spy, Mischa Lowzoff (Mischa Terr) the lowdown on what is expected of him over the next day or two. This is nothing less than the complete destruction of the United States, and here's how they're going to do it: take a white rabbit hidden in a camera case with a vial of deadly virus chained around its neck, then bring it to a magnetically sensitive area of the Continental Divide, and set off the vial. The population will be wiped out!

The Nasty Rabbit was the penultimate movie to feature that reluctant star Arch Hall Jr. As ever, it was his father's dream for his boy to be a movie actor and singing sensation, while Arch Jr was a little more sceptical about the merits of such a profession; soon he was to become a pilot and leave the bright lights of showbiz behind. But not before producer-writer-star Arch Sr brought us this, what is generally regarded as the lowest point in this duo's cinematic careers, a spy comedy that surprisingly doesn't even try to emulate James Bond.

Not even when just about every other spy movie around seemed to be doing just that, as what The Nasty Rabbit appeared to want to emulate was the Western, so that much of it takes place on a ranch where the characters assemble. Assemble to do what? Try to track down the bunny, that's what, and if you're looking for a thrilling plot, then look elsewhere, because you wouldn't find it here, indeed it's a shock to see screenwriters listed in the credits (one of them being Arch Sr, naturally) due to the apparently improvised on the day of shooting air to much of what goes on here. But not in a good way.

Arch Jr isn't in this one so much, which may be why it's few people's favourite of his oeuvre, but when he is there is seems a lot more composed than he was previously, playing a U.S. Government agent called Britt Ekland - er, no, Britt Hunter, who is present not only to uncover the Soviet sabotage but also to offer us a song into the bargain. Music fans may be interested to see that the band backing him up are actually the future Redbone of Witch Queen of New Orleans fame, here in an early incarnation (full marks if you recognise them here, of course), but that's about the most interesting thing about The Nasty Rabbit, apart from the incredible Liz Renay among the cast.

For most of this you get acres of lame slapstick and a dubious range of international stereotypes, all representing the countries wishing to get their hands on the vial. This means every character foreign to America is embodied by their comic traits, so the Japanese spy is dressed in a World War II uniform, has thick glasses and falls out of trees (um), the German wears a Nazi helmet and is given to the resulting salute, and the Mexican never goes anywhere without his huge sombrero. I know, you're laughing already, aren't you? Or, you know, maybe not, because there's something punishing about watching these people hurry and scurry around in search of giggles, whether it's listening to the rabbit's dialogue (oh, yes, it's a talking rabbit) or trying to divine any sense from what is going on. The main plus is Sharon Ryker, a cutie who plays a cowgirl and should have been in a better movie if she only wanted one credit to her name. Otherwise, even bad movie lovers may find the patience tested.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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