MILL CREEK DRIVE-IN MOVIE CLASSICS: Throw Out the Anchor (1974)

The beauty of the Mill Creek box set is discovering a movie that you would otherwise never find.

The terror of a Mill Creek box set is discovering a movie that you would otherwise never find.

Throw Out the Anchor claims that it’s a comedy. It strains the very notions of what comedy is, let me tell you that much.

It’s about an unemployed widower who heads to Florida with his children for a vacation on a houseboat, but they get there and, comedy situation after his wife dies and he loses his job, there was never any boat at all.

Director John Hugh directed one movie and if you ask me, it was more than enough. A G-rated comedy from 1974 is my idea of a horror movie, all earnest and dry and poorly realized. But even worse, this is a message movie, as when the family finally gets a broken down boat, fixes it up and sets sail, the water is all polluted. Everyone laugh!

When I was eight years old, Jerry Lewis made a big return to America’s movie theaters with Hardly Working, a film that starts with a montage of his greatest hits and the entire theater went wild with laughter. After a decade away — and unbeknownst to young Sam, most of it spent on the Day the Clown Cried — Lewis was back, baby! And then the movie started, a film that ran out of money numerous times, had a depressed star and barely held together and it just started grinding. People started audibly sighing in the theater and as a young kid, I learned the lesson, the horrifying lesson, that movies can suck. They can just be so bad and this movie became the opposite of a comedy, it was a tragedy and each action that Lewis’ clown character undertook and each job that he got fired from — people in my small mill town did not want to be reminded of being fired in 1980 — just kept strangling the air and the funny out of every person in the theater until we left, shambling messes blinded by the mid-day sun, unsure of what we’d seen and realizing that each of us would carry some part of the ennui of that film with us until we died alone.

This movie doesn’t even get to have the montage at the beginning.

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