Who's Got the Action?

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Who's Got the Action?
Promotional movie poster for the film
Directed by Daniel Mann
Produced by Jack Rose
Written by A. Rose (book)
Jack Rose
Starring Dean Martin
Lana Turner
Eddie Albert
Walter Matthau
Nita Talbot
Music by George Duning
Cinematography Joseph Ruttenberg
Edited by Howard A. Smith
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
  • December 25, 1962 (1962-12-25)
Running time
93 min.
Country United States
Language English
Box office $1,600,000 (US/ Canada)[1]

Who's Got the Action? is a 1962 American comedy film about a man suffering from an addiction to gambling starring Dean Martin, Lana Turner, Eddie Albert, and Walter Matthau. The film was written by Alexander Rose and Jack Rose, and directed by Daniel Mann.


The gambling habit of lawyer Steve Flood (Dean Martin) is beginning to get on the nerves of his wife Melanie (Lana Turner), who initially suspects him of marital infidelity. When she learns about the gambling, Melanie talks Steve's law partner Clint Morgan (Eddie Albert), an old flame, into helping her act as a fictitious horse race bookie offering unusually attractive terms to clients.

The plan is for Steve to lose enough money to permanently rid him of the betting habit, but it goes awry when he suddenly begins winning bets on a number of long-shot horses. Flood’s winning streak attracts the attention of two horse-playing judges, Boatwright (Paul Ford) and Fogel (John McGiver), who persuade Flood to place bets for them with his mysterious “bookie.” Melanie and Morgan are astounded when the judges begin winning large wagers as well.

The make-believe bookmaking activity arouses the ire of syndicate mobster Tony Gagoots (Walter Matthau), who is furious to know who’s “getting the action.” Gagoots’s mistress, a nightclub singer named Saturday Knight (Nita Talbot), happens to be the Floods’ next-door neighbor, and assists Melanie in raising cash for the gambling payoffs by purchasing various furnishings from the Floods’ apartment (using Gagoots’ ill-gotten money).

The source of the mysterious “bookmaking” is traced to the Floods’ apartment by Gagoots through an illegal telephone wiretap. He and a team of thugs descend upon the apartment, where they are surprised to find all the defecting gamblers assembled. They are thunderstruck when a coercive interrogation reveals that Melanie Flood is the “bookie” they have been seeking.

Steve Flood ultimately convinces Gagoots to forgive all of their gambling debts by arguing that only by marrying his mistress Saturday can he avoid the risk of incriminating testimony. In one stroke this fulfills Saturday’s long-sought goal, saves the Floods’ marriage, insulates Gagoots from future prosecution and clears Melanie’s $18,000 gambling payoff burden.


Production notes[edit]

The storyline is based on the novel Four Horse Players Are Missing (1960) by Alexander Rose, who also plays a minor role in the film (as Mr. Goody). This novel, in turn, was closely related to Damon Runyon's short story "Little Miss Marker".

Many of the scenes were filmed on location in Flood’s/Knight’s luxurious penthouse apartments in the historic Talmadge building on Los Angeles’ Wilshire Boulevard; much of the automobile driving shown runs up and down Wilshire.


  1. ^ "Top Rental Features of 1963", Variety, January 8, 1964 p 71. Figures are rentals as opposed to total gross.

External links[edit]