Monday, January 17, 2011

Tonight's Movie: If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969)

IF IT'S TUESDAY, THIS MUST BE BELGIUM, the story of a group of Americans on a whirlwind bus tour of Europe, represents both the best and the worst of 1969.

On the "best" side we have charming lead actors in Suzanne Pleshette and Ian McShane, the enjoyable Mildred Natwick and Pamela Britton in supporting roles, and beautiful location shots of various European countries. And, of course, anyone who's ever been on a bus tour of Europe (raising hand) will relate to many aspects of the story.

On the "worst" side we have crass, unfunny so-called humor, hideously ugly set and costume design, and a batch of highly unappealing "comedic" supporting actors, including Marty Ingels, Norman Fell, and Peggy Cass.

The low points threaten time and again to sink the movie, and then one of the film's strong points pops up just in time to save it for a few more minutes.

Is it worth seeing? Maybe, maybe not. Pleshette and McShane are quite appealing. Pleshette is gorgeous and funny, and McShane is a charmer. (Watching the film brought back nice memories of seeing him in a stage production of AS YOU LIKE IT circa 1980; he was drolly funny.) And the scenery is truly beautiful. But the ending was a disappointment and made it all seem a bit pointless. There are better movies with beautiful European scenery.

It should be noted this wasn't Pleshette's first "travelogue" film; she'd previously appeared in the colorful -- and more enjoyable -- ROME ADVENTURE (1962).

A handful of actors including Joan Collins, Robert Vaughn, and Ben Gazzara have cameos. Maybe they were funny at the time, but they struck me as fairly pointless and didn't have much impact. For instance, if you blinked you wouldn't have even noticed Collins was in the movie.

This film was directed by Mel Stuart. It runs 99 minutes.

IF IT'S TUESDAY, THIS MUST BE BELGIUM is available on a widescreen DVD, and it's also been released on VHS.

It can also be played on Netflix streaming, as can a 1987 TV movie inspired by the original film.


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