The Wheeler Dealers
|The Wheeler Dealers|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Arthur Hiller|
|Produced by||Martin Ransohoff|
|Written by||George Goodman|
|Music by||Frank De Vol|
|Edited by||Tom McAdoo|
|Box office||$3,200,000 (US/ Canada)|
The Wheeler Dealers (a.k.a. Separate Beds in the UK) is a 1963 romantic comedy film produced by Martin Ransohoff, directed by Arthur Hiller, and starring James Garner, Lee Remick, Phil Harris, Chill Wills, Jim Backus, and Patricia Crowley. The film, distributed by Metro Goldwyn Mayer, was written by George Goodman and Ira Wallach, based on Goodman's 1959 novel of the same name.
Garner was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.
Molly Thatcher (Lee Remick) is a stockbroker languishing in a New York company run by male chauvinist Bullard Bear (Jim Backus). When the company does poorly, he has to fire somebody. As the only female broker, Molly is the obvious choice since dismissing a male broker would make people think the company is in trouble. He assigns her the seemingly impossible task of unloading shares of an obscure company called Universal Widgets, figuring that she will fail, and he will have an excuse to fire her.
Molly meets Henry Tyroon (James Garner), an aggressive wheeler dealer who dresses, talks, and acts like a stereotypical Texas millionaire. He is interested in her romantically, not Universal Widgets, but decides to help out in order to get closer to her. As they spend time together, Molly watches Henry make complicated business deals, often in partnership with his Texan cronies, Jay Ray (Chill Wills), Ray Jay (Phil Harris), and J.R. (Charles Watts). One example is speculative dealing in modern abstract art, with the aid of Stanislas (Louis Nye), a cynical avant-garde painter.
Molly and Henry have trouble figuring out Universal Widgets' reason for existence; its only factory burned down around the time of World War I. It manufactures nothing and provides no services. (Widgets had something to do with horse-drawn carriages.) It is just a corporation on paper whose sole asset is a huge block of shares in AT&T, bought long, long ago when the stock was ridiculously cheap. Now it pays out hefty, regular dividends to its few complacent shareholders.
When Henry makes attempts to take control of Universal Widgets by what appears to be questionable methods, over-enthusiastic government regulator Hector Vanson (John Astin) takes him to court. Henry, against all advice, orders oil drilling done on the property, and spreads rumors that investment banks are interested in the company, causing the share price to soar. Further complications arise when Jay Ray, Ray Jay, and J.R. get Molly fired so that she will spend more time with Henry. She thinks Henry is responsible for her firing. She also discovers that he is actually an Easterner and a Yale University graduate; masquerading as a Texan just helps him with his wheeling and dealing. The judge dismisses the Federal Securities Commission case when it is determined that all the Universal Widgets shares are in the hands of just a handful of shareholders, not the general public. Henry and the Texan trio's shares are sold back to the original owners, the Whipple family, then and there, for a sizable profit. The trio also confesses that they were the ones who had Molly fired from her job. Upon hearing this from them, she quickly makes up with Henry, and they kiss.
- James Garner as Henry Tyroon
- Lee Remick as Molly Thatcher
- Phil Harris as Ray Jay Fox
- Chill Wills as Jay Ray Spinelby
- Jim Backus as Bullard Bear
- Louis Nye as Stanislas
- John Astin as Hector Vanson
- Elliott Reid as Leonard
- Pat Harrington Jr. as Buddy Zack
- Joey Forman as Buster Yarrow
- Patricia Crowley as Eloise Cott
- Charles Watts as J.R. Martin
- Howard McNear as Mr. Wilson
- Don Briggs as Len Flink
- Vaughn Taylor as Thaddeus Whipple
- Robert Strauss as Feinberg, Taxi Driver
- John Marley as Achilles Dimitros
- Peter Leeds as Arthur Watkins
Bosley Crowther of The New York Times was unimpressed, writing "somehow the script of George J. W. Goodman and Ira Wallach doesn't jell and isn't droll, and Arthur Hiller's direction is too slow for romantic comedy. What might be brightly satiric simply isn't because it lacks wit. Too much double entry and too little double entendre". He did, however, like Garner ("spry and briskly charming") and Remick ("cute").
Glenn Erickson characterized the film as an "entertaining trifle that, if I read it right, outsmarts itself. Nobody on either side of the camera seems to know that the joke is really on them, and us, and our way of life". He thought both stars gave "outstanding performances" and rated the film "Good +".
The Wheeler Dealers was released on June 27, 2011 by Warner Home Video as a widescreen Region 1 DVD through its Warner Archive DVD-on-demand service. The film was released on Blu-ray on April 25, 2017.
- "Top Rental Features of 1963", Variety, 8 January 1964 p 71. Please note figures are rentals as opposed to total gross.
- Variety film review; September 25, 1963, page 6.
- "James Garner". Golden Globe Awards.
- Bosley Crowther (November 15, 1963). "The Wheeler Dealers (1963)". The New York Times.
- "The Wheeler Dealers". DVD Savant. Retrieved October 22, 2012.
- The Wheeler Dealers Blu-ray, retrieved 2017-09-08