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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

'The Wheeler Dealers' BD: Maverick James Garner and Properish Blonde Lee Remick Play Rock and Doris

The recent Warner Archive Blu-ray release of the 1963 James Garner/Lee Remick romcom "The Wheeler Dealers' reminds everyone who is familiar with the roguish charm of Garner of his incomparable talent for playing a lovable scoundrel. A few scenes that include one in which Garner's Texas oilman Henry Tyroon puffs on a cigar especially make Garner look just like professional gambler Bret Maverick in the (Unreal TV reviewed) Archive sets of the '50s Western series "Maverick."

Two other comparisons are mandatory before discussing specific elements of "Wheeler." Pairing dark-haired player Garner with overall prime and proper blonde Lee Remick (who plays securities analyst Molly Thatcher) reflects the success of the similar Rock Hudson/Doris Day films of the era. This pairing of equals further evokes thoughts of the '70s Polaroid commercials with Garner and Mariette Hartley.

Behind the camera, movie and television director Arthur Hiller puts the same skills to use in "Wheeler" as he does in classic comedy films that include "The Out-of-Towners" and "Silver Streak."

The final bit of administration is that the glorious bright and bold colors of this '60s era movie and the increased rumbling of an oil well in the opening scenes show that Archive choose wisely in releasing this one in Blu-ray.

The following YouTube clip of the IMPORTANT SPOILER CONTAINING theatrical trailer courtesy of Archive highlights the riverboat-style theme song courtesy of the The New Christy Minstrels and the zany '60stastic antics of the film.


The desperate time regarding Tyroon quickly needing money to keep pumping for black gold (a.k.a. Texas tea), oil that is, prompts the desperate measure of going to New York in search of investors and other revenue sources. This effort coincides with the boss (aptly played by Jim Backus of "Gilligan's Island") of Thatcher setting her up to fail but assigning her to sell worthless stock in a widget company. The rationale behind this decision is that men making very bad business decisions requires firing the woman with the unblemished record.

This early part of the film also features a hilarious scene in which Backus' fellow TV Land legend Howard "Floyd the Barber" McNear plays a steel industry representative who is uber-condescending to an association of female securities analysts to which Thatcher belongs. John "Gomez Addams" Astin shows up later as a perversely enthusiastic securities industry regulator; other fun cameos are Bernie Koppell of "Get Smart" and "The Love Boat" as "fawning art fan," and Pat "Schneider" Harrington as an PR man who knows the score. Having '60s TV cameo god Charles Lane as a judge in the closing scenes awesomely rounds out this group.

Tyroon being a cowboy in a sea of city slickers and seemingly having deep pockets attracts Thatcher to him; Thatcher being pretty and smart gets the attention of Tyroon. Thatcher being proud of falling somewhere between Madonna and whore makes her refreshingly unusual for a 1963 comedy.

The dynamic duo of Thatcher and Tyroon soon hilariously combine their powers to create a misleading perception regarding the value of the widget stock. This coincides with this team moving closer from the boardroom to the bedroom.

Even casual fans of romcoms know that Thatcher will get a third act reveal regarding Tyroon that will revoke his status as the object of her affection; the "never would have guessed it" aspect of this one separates the Days from the Heigls. Another awesome aspect of this is that it makes Garner even more endearing to the audience.

The aforementioned final scenes in the courtroom pay great homage to the similar pattern in '30s screwball comedies; Tyroon seems destined for a country club prison for white collar criminals, and the only question remains the extent to which Thatcher will need to wait for him. Of course, disorder in the court accompanies this.

The final verdict regarding "Wheeler" is that the battle of the sexes between equals and the related manipulation of perception for the art of the deal are as relevant in 2017 and 1963. As Thatcher and her more party girl roommate observe regarding the former, that simply is how people are constructed.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Wheeler" is strongly encouraged to email me; you alternatively can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.