Film / Foul Play

"Beware the Dwarf!"

A 1978 comedy/thriller directed by Colin Higgins and starring Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase.

Hawn is Gloria, a shy divorcee and librarian who one day decides to follow a friend's advice to throw caution to the wind, asking out a stranger whom she helps out when his car breaks down. When they meet at the movies that night, however, he's been shot, and manages to blurt out a cryptic warning — "beware of the dwarf!" — before dying; when she goes to get help, however, someone has taken the body before she can get back to her seat.

Suddenly embroiled in a lethal conspiracy, Gloria finds herself being hunted by various parties who are eager to find out what she knows and make sure she doesn't tell anyone else. Various complications — including diminutive salesmen, albino assassins, a lecherous British bachelor (Dudley Moore) and Detective Tony Carlson (Chase), a handsome police officer assigned to investigate her increasingly bizarre story — ensue.

This Film Contains Examples Of:

  • Badass Grandpa: Mr. Hennessey, played by Burgess Meredith, is such a nice old man. With moves like Bruce Lee.
  • Boggles the Mind
  • Casanova Wannabe: Stanley wants to be a Kavorka Man but doesn't manage to get anywhere.
  • Cold Sniper: The albino, whose face hardly moves even while he's shooting people.
  • Concert Climax: It takes place at a performance of The Mikado.
  • Concert Kiss: Tony and Gloria at the climax, onstage, after the albino has been killed.
  • Evil Albino: This one's a cold-blooded assassin.
  • Feng Schwing: Stanley's apartment.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The two little old ladies playing Scrabble... using dirty words. We only see parts of the Scrabble board but it's pretty clear what those words are.
  • Hot Librarian: Gloria is played by Goldie Hawn, after all.
  • I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin
  • It Was Here, I Swear!: The bad guys have a nasty tendency to keep pulling this on Gloria.
  • Japanese Tourist: As Tony and Gloria race to save the day in the climax, they commandeer a car with a Japanese couple in the back. They don't understand much English, but they know what Kojak is, and when the heroes communicate that they're in a Kojak-esque situation, the tourists are thrilled to be along for the ride! ("Bang bang!")
  • Little People Are Surreal: Billy Barty as a Bible salesman.
  • MacGuffin: The microfilm that the dying man slips to Gloria. It gets burned up before anyone ever sees it, but by then she's already enmeshed in the criminal conspiracy to kill the Pope.
  • Oh Crap!: A minor one at the end; Stanley, who was conducting the orchestra during the climactic performance of The Mikado, noticed the Concert Kiss between Gloria and Tony, recognized that Gloria was the same blonde he ran into twice before, and then noticed that Tony was carrying a police badge. He immediately felt the need to slip on a pair of sunglasses.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Gloria is trying to persuade Stanley to escort her home because she's been attacked by a hired killer and fears for her life. Stanley thinks she's throwing herself at him. Things get increasingly misinterpreted.
    • Later, Gloria thinks a dwarf is threatening to kill her. He's actually just trying to sell her a bible.
  • Peek-A-Boo Corpse: The audience at The Mikado gets one during the climax after Tony shoots Whitey, who falls into the rigging of a fake HMS Pinafore, combined with the weight of a cop Whitey shot earlier, causes the ropes holding the fake ship above the stage to slip free, and the fake ship comes down to the stage, with the bodies in the rigging.
  • The Peeping Tom: When, at Stanley's apartment, Gloria requests a pair of binoculars (to better monitor the albino who has been pursuing her):
    Stanley: Binoculars? Are you into that as well?! I read about it in Penthouse magazine!
  • Professional Killer: Rupert Stiltskin, who has been hired to kill a very important figure.
  • Punny Name: Gloria Mundy and Rupert Stiltskin. As well as an Evil Albino known as "Whitey".
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Subverted; a snake appears in Gloria's landlord's apartment with sinister fanfare, but it turns out it's the landlord's pet snake Esmee, whom Gloria is fond of.
  • San Francisco
  • The '70s: Oh man, Dudley Moore's apartment...
  • Straw Atheist: Assassinating the Pope?
  • Straw Feminist: Gloria's friend Stella has tendencies towards this, appearing to view every man Gloria mentions — or every man in general — as a potential rapist.
  • The Voiceless: The Albino doesn't say a word in this movie.
  • Western Terrorists: The radical atheists who want to kill the Pope.
  • You Have to Believe Me: Played with; although Gloria is reasonably calm and articulate when she tries to make her case (or at least as calm and articulate as a meek librarian with little experience in being plunged into a murderous conspiracy can be under such circumstances), she has difficulty in getting anyone to believe her story partly because it sounds so crazy, and partly because people keep disappearing the evidence before she can show it to anyone.