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Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round (1966)

James Coburn , Camilla Sparv , Bernard Girard  |  NR |  DVD
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

Price: $28.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: James Coburn, Camilla Sparv, Aldo Ray, Nina Wayne, Robert Webber
  • Directors: Bernard Girard
  • Writers: Bernard Girard
  • Producers: Carter DeHaven
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Japanese, Georgian
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: September 30, 2003
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000AUHQB
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #192,274 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round is a 1966 crime film written and directed by Bernard Girard, starring James Coburn and featuring Camilla Sparv, Aldo Ray, Nina Wayne, Todd Armstrong, Robert Webber and Rose Marie. James Coburn stars in this comedy-melodrama as Eli Kotch, who uses his charm to obtain a parole from prison by having an affair with a female psychologist. Eli's plan upon getting out of jail is to rob a bank at the L.A. International Airport. The date of the bank robbery coincides with the arrival of the Russian premier, so that bank security will be minimal with the premier attracting most of the airport security forces. Harrison Ford appears in his film debut in the bit part of a bellhop.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Criminally Underrated February 1, 2009
This is a unique and sensational 60s caper -- very well-written. There's no exposition - nothing is telegraphed. You have to pay careful attention to all Coburn's moves to find out how they play out. You're not even sure what the score is `til the final 20 minutes. It's seriously ahead of its time, although its time may not have yet arrived still, because if this were made today they'd overplay the cynicism of the piece and not let it all unfold for the viewer without irony.

Though it has a low-key, hip 60s vibe, it has more of the feel of a subversive 70s entertainment. (I winced when I saw Rose Marie's prominent billing in the credits, fearing a garish Mad-Mad-World-style comic cameo. She has only a couple of scenes, though and she's terrific.) Coburn's never been better.

The picture's a little too long, but it's a complete knockout. Remembered today mainly for Harrison Ford's three lines as a bellboy, this a subtle little classic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really good comedy-crime caper from 60's January 12, 2014
By Luke
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
First of, James Coburn was a great actor, in the same style of Charles Bronson, Stephen Boyd, or Lee Marvin. However, somehow he is forgotten by the Hollywood and public in general. I don't know why?

The movie has great 1960's feel to it. Interesting story, and un-Hollywood like ending. Also, great shots of LAX airport.
I give it 4 stars, because I would be lying if said that I love it, but I did like it.
Most importantly, Camilla Sparv is an eye-candy to look at. If at least a quarter of Swedish females look like her,
then I must seriously consider moving to Sweden :)
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Solid Caper Film with Only One Real Flaw December 7, 2010
James Coburn is among my favorite actors -- he might not have been as handsome as, say, Cary Grant or Gregory Peck, nor as suave as Sean Connery or Rock Hudson, but he could carry a film as easily as any of these leading men. What Coburn brought to his roles, long before it became de riguer, was a steady but self-effacing cool, with quite a bit more humor than Steve McQueen or Lee Marvin, who approximated him physically. That his career did not go further is a mystery to me, but thank goodness we have the films he did make. Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round is a cryptic title until you get the reference in the film, but it's a fine hold-up movie, and the sort that keeps you guessing as to what will happen next.

Coburn plays Eli Kotch, a grifter who, among other things, charms his way out of prison by bedding the state's psychologist (Marian McCargo, a cross between Barbara Billingsley and Dina Merrill) before making his way across the country in a series of interesting cons that net him women and money. It's all to buy the scjematics for an airport international bank's security system, which he plans to crack with the help of his gang (Aldo Ray, Michael Strong, and Severn Darden, whom Coburn would again co-star with in the excellent The President's Analyst). At risk are the usual close calls, but what elevates Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round from the usual caper film is its focus on both character and location, giving the film a more introspective geography than most. Watching it, one can see hints to what later would become standard elements of both Tarantino and Coen Brothers films, and in fact, it's rather surprising in particular the latter chose to remake True Grit and not this film.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good movie. Bad reissue cover art. June 11, 2014
Saw this in the theater when released, when it was ahead of its time. A must see for a Coburn fan.

The pictured cover art is not the original poster, and contains an error. The plane pictured on the right appears to be a 747, which had not yet flown in1966 and certainly wouldn't be in the background at LAX.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round 1966 April 18, 2013
By William
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Saw this movie while I was stationed in Germany 1966/67 Having grown up in and around the LA airport, it was like seeing a bit of home in a far off land. Didn't see this movie again until the 1980s and taped it on VHS. Was glad to see it available on DVD really enjoyed this movie.
The actors and dialog in this film, are classic. After I got out of the US Army in 1970 went to the LA airport and walked around, the area, the bank in the film was under a different name for the movie, When I went to visit the airport, it was a Bank of America branch.
Walked around the Encounter Restaurant and Observation area at that time, you could just walk about anywhere. Today all that
open area in the movie where you drop off and pick up passengers is now enclosed and is a double-deck area. For myself, its one of those movie I'll always remember and now own in my DVD movie collection...
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2.0 out of 5 stars Thin Acting. Thinner Scripts. December 31, 2011
By MadMacs
Ah the mid-1960s --- thin acting, thinner scripts. Rented because I'm a huge fan of heist capers. Unfortunately, 'Merry Go Round' is a rather fragile piece of filmmaking. Trying too hard to be clever and failing. Too coy to be slick. Too plastic to be real. And infinitely too convoluted to make any sense.

In this film, Coburn plays Eli Kotch, a con-man and Lothario thief who uses his skills pursuing housemaids in order to pry his way to the goodies; both literal and figurative téndrés des marchandises. It's a decent scam, but he has eyes on a much bigger prize. He's tired of making just enough until he has to do it all over again, so he has plans on a heist that will set him up for life. One big score that will allow him to walk away and drink margaritas on a beach forever.

Seems pretty straight-forward, but the filmmakers pursue a plaintively obtuse and twisted path to reach that simple goal.

One issue I had, and it's only one to illustrate a point, was why Eli needed to recruit his 'assistant' from the east coast, only to have her relocate to the west coast? It's not explained, and I sincerely doubt there is an explanation. Not a reasonable or logical one at least. Again, that's just one issue. There are many more like it in this production.

Again, it was the 1960s. And this kind of plot hole seems par for the course for many B-movies that did not go straight for the easy money via sexploitation or sensationalism. The mid-sixties were a transitional period in Hollywood, a time where things were about to creatively explode as rogue filmmakers and independents were about to shakeup the industry for the next twenty years.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 2 months ago by old smoothie
4.0 out of 5 stars Harrison's first speaking part
An interesting, if somewhat convoluted tale of robbery and the sexist sixties. James Coburn was one of the great ones whose work went largely unappreciated. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Michael S. Bumagin, M.D.
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Awkward Little Film.
I love James Coburn films, and this one will be another piece of my James Coburn collection. This movie screams 60s.
Published 21 months ago by Monkey Bucket
3.0 out of 5 stars This was sort of a blind buy
I had never heard of the film, and pretty much it was the fact that James Coburn was in it that I decided to give it a try. A decent movie, but not a 'classic'... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars worst coburn movie i have seen
Boring from beginning to end.
If I had seen it I wouidn't have bot it.
Why did I buy it?
Catchy title, James Coburn , 4 star reviews by Fan-atics. Read more
Published on July 15, 2011 by Martin D. Bolgar
3.0 out of 5 stars dvd
good movie . the actor are good. the music is good the story is good the sound is outstanding. the color is great la airport is coloful
Published on May 23, 2011 by michael j brotsis
4.0 out of 5 stars A tad more sophisticated than Waterhole #3
We are used to seeing James Coburn bigger than life. He may be here but blends in to the story and soon you think of him as Eli Kotch or who ever he is at the moment. Read more
Published on August 4, 2002 by bernie
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