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Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round

3.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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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.

Special Features

None.

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)
    PLEASE NOTE:
    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: #56,015 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
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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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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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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Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD
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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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'... it tended towards a slightly slow pacing but was interesting to watch.
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Format: DVD
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.

Eli Kotch is planning a large caper that will be masked by a visit by the Soviet Premier. He must make some quick cash to finance this plan. To do this he becomes many people and no one. Wooing maids to gain access to their employer's abodes and pilfering on a large scale. It is fun watching him manufacture his personality and background. He becomes very efficient at this and even the boldness (with that Coburn grimace) will impress you. As in "Waterhole #3" (see my review) he must chose between the girl and the money. Keep your eyes and ears open for the outcome. Shall justice prevail?

The President's Analyst ~ James Coburn
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