At the theater that night, Gloria's sure she's been stood up, and resignedly goes inside alone. A few minutes into the noir mystery, Scotty stumbles in and joins her. She is distracted from his words by the movie, but remembers him saying 'beware the dwarf' before he drops dead. What's more, he's bled all over her popcorn! She alerts the manager and has the movie halted and house lights brought up, but the body has mysteriously disappeared. Suspicious and frightened, she returns home to be comforted by her kindly old landlord, Mr. Hennessy (Meredith).
The next evening, Gloria is closing up the library when she's attacked by an albino. Fleeing, Gloria hides in a singles' bar where she meets Stanley Tibbets (Moore). When Gloria begs Stanley to take her home, he thinks he's hit the jackpot. At his apartment, Stanley begins to 'seduce' Gloria, who is too distracted watching for the albino out the window to even notice his absurd advances. When she turns to find him in his heart-print boxers, with his Murphy bed unfurled and a full display of sex toys at the ready, she decides to return home.
It's a howlingly funny scene, and aside from Stanley giving Gloria a heavier pour of vodka, steers deftly around the creepy date-rape tropes that so many 20th-century comedies both normalized and used as a crutch. Dudley Moore's performance is pure, uninhibited joy, and warrants repeat watching. If it were up to me, Moore's headstone would feature an LCD screen playing an unending loop of gifs from this scene.
Upon hearing of the attack the following work day, Gloria's over-vigilant co-worker Stella gives her a small arsenal for self-defense: a personal alarm, pepper spray, and brass knuckles. None too soon- Gloria is leaving work later that same day when she is abducted by a limo driver! Using the self-defense tools, she escapes and makes her way, bedraggled, rain-soaked, and missing a shoe, to the police department, where Tony and Fergie promptly begin to take her story a bit more seriously.
Tony, now beginning to investigate in earnest, discovers two things. First, that Bob 'Scotty' Scott was an undercover cop investigating an assassination plot against the Pope involving a hitman known as 'The Dwarf.' Second, the limousine which was used in Gloria's abduction is registered to the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Tony, Fergie, and Gloria go to speak with Archbishop Thorncrest, who, contrary to viewers' expectations, is very much alive (different housekeeper, though). The Archbishop feigns innocence, claiming the limo was stolen by his former driver.
Tony takes Gloria home to Sausalito, where, unable to resist the primal tidal rocking of his houseboat, she succumbs to his seductions. The next day, he's called out to the beach, where the body of Gloria's scarred assailant has washed up. Gloria returns home to prepare for her friend's wedding, but receives a phone call from Fergie asking her to meet him somewhere, right away.
Gloria arrives at the address, above a seedy massage parlor, in her bridesmaid's dress and carrying her umbrella, as instructed. When she goes upstairs, Fergie manages to yell out, warning her that it's a trap, and she escapes into the massage parlor's rear entrance, pursued by the Pope's would-be assassins. She briefly encounters Stanley Tibbets again, who is availing himself of the massage parlor's services. Before she can escape, the roughs break in and snatch her. She is taken to the Archbishop's home, where it is revealed that the assassinated clergyman is being impersonated by his twin brother.
Tony and Mr. Hennessy race to the Archbishop's mansion, where Gloria and Fergie are already being held. After a struggle, they are subdued and forced to listen as the assorted villains expound, Bond-like, on the full details of their evil plan (in summary: they are radical atheists). After another (exceedingly unconvincing) struggle, the conspirators have been defeated. Gloria and Tony have no choice but to race across town to foil the assassination plot, now unfolding over a performance of The Mikado at the opera house.
As The Mikado begins, the duo begin to tear ass down the city's famous hills. When they crash their own car, they commandeer a pick-up truck with a small cabin built onto the rear bed. When they in turn crash the pick-up truck, leaving the cabin a half-block away, they steal an airport limousine that stops to assist. The limo happens to contain a newly-arrived Japanese tourist couple, who, once they are informed that they are involved in Kojack-like police work, begin to take enormous glee in the high-speed ride.
Upon arrival at the opera house, Gloria and Tony bid goodbye to the couple, who have thoroughly enjoyed their introduction to America, and race inside. The albino snags Gloria and takes her hostage in a shoot-out that occurs backstage, visibly distracting a number of the singers onstage as well as the orchestra's leader: none other than Stanley Tibbits. Tony manages to shoot and kill the albino, who falls from the scaffolding onto an HMS Pinafore set, bringing it down onstage at the climax of The Mikado's final song. At first there is stunned silence from the audience, but then the Pope begins to clap, and the whole house comes down. The curtain descends, as does the albino's body.
Gloria and Tony reunite and lock lips, oblivious as the curtain rises again on the audience. Why, it's like the standing ovation is just for them! I'd say they're ready to take a chance again on love. What about you, Barry?
In addition to the many authentic San Francisco settings in Foul Play, the film is a true marker of the 70s as well. Despite the fact that Gloria doesn't smoke, men keep lighting up in her car (Scotty) and her house (Tony). Although I'm sure there's more than a little subtle sexism implied by these actions, it probably speaks just as much to the prevalence of smoking in that era, and to how quickly we in contemporary times have become accustomed to our precious no-smoking zones.
Naturally, all those cigarettes are going to lead to nicotine stains on your walls and ceilings, so the 70s answer to that dilemma was to decorate as ostentatiously as possible. Gloria's apartment is filled with screaming bright florals in avocado and gold- her drapes match her sofa in the living room, and her window shade matches the wallpaper in the bathroom. It's Tony's houseboat, however, that really hits peak trend with its wood-on-wood-on-macrame look. This home looks like it is single-handedly responsible for the clearcutting of several acres of rainforest: in addition to wood paneling and wood shelving, the wall behind Tony's bed is shingled, on the inside. What's more, his bed's headboard appears to be made of an ordinary, unpainted garden lattice. It's a wonder that the friction from their lovemaking didn't set that tinderbox ablaze.
Using telecasts in the background, the Pope's journey across the United States, culminating in his visit to San Francisco, is peppered throughout the film's action. Il Papa in this film was played by noted San Francisco businessman and philanthropist Cyril Magnin, the irony being that Magnin was Jewish (albeit non-observant). Magnin was well-regarded for his generous support of the arts in the city, as well as his instrumental role as a donor to the Kennedy presidential campaign.
As I've come to expect, the film's climactic fast-driving-scene (it's technically not correct to call it a chase scene) plots a completely nonsensical route through the city. Although it includes some remarkable scenery and fulfills the obligatory Flying Down A Steep Hill quota, the route jumps all over the city and would, in reality, necessitate wormholes. In fact, it's so unnecessarily labyrinthine that Google Maps refused to accept my attempts to input this many addresses and intersections. I had to create two separate maps plotting the route because Google said, in essence, "you're fucking with me, right?"
One strange note, which is that the filmmakers opted to use City Hall as a stand-in for the War Memorial Opera House, despite the actual thing being a mere block away on Van Ness.
Authenticity: 5/10- Knows a shortcut to the bridge, but doesn't own a FasTrak and has to wait in the cash toll lanes.
Macrame Score: Double-granny knot with a wooden bead.
Overall: Like looking at your 8th grade photo where your LA Gears are on point and even though it's embarrassing now, you're still pretty proud of how good you looked for the time.