Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round
James Coburn is a suave, sexy con-man involved in a twisty plot that leads to an attempt to rob a bank in L.A.'s airport. Essentially a caper film, Dead Heat On A Merry-Go-Round (1966) is really just a showcase for Coburn, who takes on a number of identities as part of his cons as well as romancing lovely ladies and wearing hip '60s clothes. It's an occasionally light-hearted caper film that takes itself far too seriously to be truly successful, but it did serve as some inspiration for later movies of the same flavor. There's more than a little Dead Heat in Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can, in fact Coburn's character, Eli Kotch, pretends to be a Swiss shoe clerk, an exterminator, and an Aussie police inspector over the course of the movie, playing a self-involved (but very charming) sociopath with no apparent moral compass. There's a snappy twist ending, of course, and it features a young actor named Harrison Ford in his first role, playing a bell hop. Columbia TriStar's DVD release of Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round is a decent-but-not-pristine transfer of the film in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) with very clean Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. On board are trailers for Hard Times starring Coburn and Charles Bronson, and the comedy Murder by Death. Keep-case.