Foul Play was Chevy Chase‘s first movie after leaving Saturday Night Live and it remains his best film to date. Unlike his SNL and Caddyshack co-star Bill Murray, Chase never really stretched beyond the basic character he plays here, which isn’t that different than the characters he played on SNL.
Foul Play is better as a vehicle for Chase’s co-star, Goldie Hawn. Her character, Gloria is a slightly sheltered and recently divorced librarian, encouraged by one friend to take chances and meet new people while her co-worker warns her to watch out for all the wacko’s in the world and loans Gloria her brass knuckles and mace.
In short order, she picks up a stranded man and makes a date to go to the movies that night. Things get complicated when the man dies in the movie theater, whispering “Beware of the dwarf”, and even more complicated when the body disappears and no one believes Gloria. Soon, people are trying to kill her and getting killed by the other people who are also trying to kill her. The bodies keep disappearing and the police think Gloria is nuts, except, of course, Chevy Chase’s character, Tony, the detective who catches the case.
The plot is a skillful mixture of Hitchcockian suspense and Rock Hudson/Doris Day screwball comedy. While Chase is undercut by the script’s insistence that he act like, well, like Chevy Chase, he does make for a convincing romantic lead, at least within the demands of this kind of movie.