Elliot Nash (Glenn Ford) is a writer/director working in the stressful and hectic world of television. He’s working on a new movie script for Alfred Hitchcock… but not to make more money for himself, or to advance his career. He’s got a blackmailer to pay off.
Dan Shelby (Stanley Adams) is a photographer’s assistant who plans to release scandalous photos of Elliot’s wife Nell (Debbie Reynolds) from her younger days as a model, unless Elliot provides him with a hefty $10,000 check.
Waiting on the advance, Elliot considers other options to make money, including selling his house. Nell, unaware of the blackmailer, opposes the idea. They’re renovating, and she’s excited about the new gazebo that’s being added.
Advised by a legal-minded friend (Carl Reiner) who thinks Elliot is working on a script about a blackmailer, Mr. Nash decides he has three options: pay the blackmailer, go to the police… or kill the blackmailer.
The Gazebo was directed by George Marshall and written by George Wells.
The Gazebo is somewhat slow to start, but just as Elliot’s conflict with the blackmailer snowballs out of control, the film becomes funnier as it moves along.
The performances are solid, and the characters are fun to watch as they navigate a series of sinister mishaps. The film is made enjoyable by the supporting cast in particular — Carl Reiner as a snoopy friend of Mr. and Mrs. Nash, John McGiver as the contractor hired to install the “gizbo” (as he pronounces it), and a very spirited pigeon named Herman as Elliot’s sidekick.
While the capable cast does well with the material, the script does leave some to be desired. Debbie Reynolds is given painfully little to do aside from sharing a little chemistry with Glenn Ford. No time is spent developing her character. And while the pace does improve as the film progresses, it doesn’t really start to pick up until nearly an hour of the film has passed, making it difficult for the viewer to become engrossed in the story.
The Gazebo‘s premise has great potential for hilarious black comedy, and there are a few great moments in the film, but so much more could have been done to bring the laughs and the thrills to this story. Look elsewhere for truly great crime-comedy… but running twenty minutes short of two hours in length, The Gazebo isn’t a bad diversion. The score: 3/5