"Walk tall! You're in the string section!"
This is the 1985 U.S. remake of Yves Robert's 1973 farce Le Grand blond avec une chaussure noire, swapping France for the US and installing Tom Hanks as the hapless violinist entagled in a web between rivalling law enforcement agencies.
The story is simple: Richard (Tom Hanks), a mild mannered Violinist is chosen randomly by a fraction of the CIA to represent a significant threat to the director of the CIA, who in turn wants him removed. Of course our heroic violinist doesn't have a clue that he is at the centre of a huge secret service ploy, and so he finds the dead bodies which are piling around him rather unusual. Hilarity ensues. Will our hero get the super agent girl? Will he be able to resist the advances of his best friends wife? Will he be killed by some grey suit?
This was only the third feature film in which Hanks played the male lead after Bachelor Party and Splash and he was still a rather fresh faced actor in his late twenties. His comic energy was certainly much more raw and geared towards slapstick, something that he unfortunately abandoned after Turner & Hooch. At that time he was capable of facial expressions reminiscent of Jim Carrey and his comic timing was impeccable.
His costars are certainly quite impressive: James Belushi as his best friend Morris the percussionist, Carrie Fisher as Belushi's faithless wife Paula, roaming around in jungle stripe underpants and pouncing on the hapless Hanks whenever possible:
Paula: "Remember Chicago? Fate? Kismet? "
Richard: "No, I don't remember, Paula. You got me drunk."
There's the eighties pinup for intellectuals, Lori Singer, a wonderful cast of baddies in Charles Durning and Dabney Coleman and the great David Ogden Stiers as a seriously pissed off conductor.
The camerawork is quite innovative for the eighties and is reminiscent of that geek's old favourite Electric Dreams, which is surprising, as Richard H. Kline the cinematographer, went to film Howard the Duck next.
All in all great fun for all of those who like secret agent spoofs, but of course no match for the famous original with Pierre Richard in Hanks's role.
Nevertheless, go and catch it.
"I know, I know, I know, he's a percussionist, but still, that doesn't mean he's not a nice guy."