Scavenger Hunt (1979) – By Duane L. Martin


Milton Parker (Vincent Price), one of the biggest game makers in the country, and an incredibly rich man passes away, he comes up with a rather amusing idea. He makes his relatives, along with his servants and a random cab driver who was largely responsible for his success compete for his two-hundred million dollar fortune by participating in a scavenger hunt. They have until five o’clock that afternoon to bring back as many of the items on the clue-filled list as they possibly can, with each item being worth a different number of points.

There is WAY too much going on in this movie for me to get into every facet of it. Why is it so complex? Here’s the cast list:

Richard Benjamin, James Coco, Scatman Crothers, Ruth Gordon, Cloris Leachman, Cleavon Little, Roddy McDowall, Robert Morely, Richard Mulligan, Tony Randall, Dirk Benedict, Willie Aames, Stephanie Faracy, Stephen Furst, Richard Masur, Meat Loaf, Pat McCormick, Vincent Price, Avery Schreiber, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Liz Torres, Carol Wayne, Stuart Pankin, Maureen Teefy, Melissa Francis, Julie Anne Haddock, David Hollander, Shane Sinutko, Henry Polic II, Hal Landon Jr., Marji Martin, Jerado Decordovier, Emory Bass, Byron Webster, Adam Anderson, Wally K. Berns, Patrick Brennan, Fred Cooke, Jerry Fujikawa, Sid Gould, Dale Kalberg, Peggy Kaye, Art K. Koustik, Susan La Porte, David Morgan, Bobby Rolofson, Alan Scharf, John Sorrentino, Andy Stone, Marian Streckler, Duane Tucker.

Phew! That’s one hell of a lot of people, and if you grew up in that era, or you’re just a fan of movies and television shows from that era, then you’re going to recognize a whole lot of the names on that list. I don’t even want to imagine what it cost them to have all those big name stars of the time, but it couldn’t have been cheap.

Cloris Leachman plays Milton Parker’s sister, and she along with her shyster of a lawyer and her big doof of a son whose IQ score wouldn’t even make a respectable light bulb wattage, set out to screw all the others out of the fortune in whatever crooked way they can.

Her step daughter, who she doesn’t treat very well, teams up with Dirk Benedict and Willie Aames, who play Milton’s nephews. Tony Randall plays his son in law with four younger children, who set out as a family to try for the fortune. The team comprised of his staff are played by Roddy McDowall, James Coco, Cleavon Little, and Stephanie Faracy as the butler, the chef, the limo driver, and the ditzy maid respectively. Richard Mulligan as the cab driver goes it solo to start with, but later teams up with a security guard played by Scatman Crothers when he tries to steal a wedding dress for the scavenger hunt and Crothers catches him in the act.

There’s a lot of madcap, crazy fun in this film, as well as some hilarious slapstick, and some groan-worthy humor that will have you laughing, or at least sitting there with a big smile on your face. You’ll never know who’s actually going to win until the very end when everyone gathers back at the mansion to tally up the scores. The movie does a really good job of making you wonder how it’s going to turn out, because everyone is successful at finding different things, and since each is worth a different number of points, who’s going to win it all is a big mystery.

The acting in the film was first rate, all around. Richard Mulligan was a little over the top, but his physical comedy bits were hilarious. The best parts involved him needing to get the grill off of a Rolls-Royce. He spots a guy doing an, “I just got hit by your car and I’m injured. Pay me and I’ll go away,” scam, so he decides to try it on the owner of the Rolls in an effort to get her to give him the grill. Unfortunately for him, he hilariously ends up getting run over repeatedly in an unfortunate series of events.

This new release from Kino Lorber has an excellent transfer, and for special features it includes audio commentary by the film’s director, Michael Schultz, an interview with star Richard Benjamin, and an interview with actor Richard Masur. It includes trailers as well.

This film is nothing but madcap, crazy fun from start to finish. The characters are great, and the trials and tribulations they go through in trying to find the various items on their lists is a source of entertainment that you absolutely cannot deny yourself. You NEED to have this film in your collection, and I highly recommend you order yourself a copy.

If you’d like to find out more about this release, you can check out its page on the Kino Lorber website here: