After Dellamorte Dellamore/Cemetery Man, I'm going to give my take on this obscure classic. Roger Ebert said understanding the entire plot of this film is missing the point, and he's probably right. Read the following right after you watch the movie.
Nick is a collector of pre-Columbian artifacts, illegal to obtain. He buys these items from stunt director Joey Ziegler who has a neat operation going on using stuntmen to get them from Yucatan. Marv Ellman flies them into the US and drops them off in Florida to be picked up by Tom Iverson and Paula.
All is fine until Tom's stepdaughter (Dilly) leaves her mother, Arleen, to go live with him. This upsets Nick as a horny teenager might ruin the deal they have going on. Therefore, he makes Arleen hire Harry Moseby to fetch her back. Arleen needs to have Dilly back to get her monthly alimony.
Harry finds Dilly in Florida in no time. Things go wrong when Marv has an accident and dies while transporting an artifact. During a dive, Dilly finds the plane and recognizes Marv. Tom and Paula tell Harry they'll call the coast guard, but don't for obvious reasons. Harry takes Dilly back to LA.
Dilly tells her friends Quentin and Joey that the corpse she saw during the dive was Marv's. She's a dangerous witness to Joey, who gets her killed during a stunt.
Quentin smells something fishy and goes to Florida to investigate. Tom kills him.
Harry goes to Florida to investigate too, beats Tom senseless and discovers half this plot from Paula. He makes Paula take him out on a boat ride to the submerged plane. While Paula is diving to retrieve the artifact, Joey shows up flying a plane and kills Paula, then tries to kill the boat owner, Tom. It got too dangerous for Joey - he wants to get rid of all his team. He doesn't know it's Harry on the boat instead of Tom. As his plane is sinking he kind of apologizes to Harry. Then again, since Joey killed Dilly, I don't think he'd have any problems offing Harry too.
Harry is left alone, on a boat that's going round in circles and is angry with himself for not seeing this plot sooner. As Harry had said about that chess player, "He didn't see it. He played something else and he lost. He must have regretted it every day of his life. I know I would have." If he is rescued, he'll regret not solving this case sooner for the rest of his life.
© Nov 9 2007