They Went That-A-Way & That-A-Way, written by and starring Tim Conway, makes its arrival on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.
Right off the bat, we need to discuss the film’s run time. Unlike the packaging, it is not 95 minutes long as the film runs closer to 108 minutes. When you look across IMDb, TCM, Rotten Tomatoes, AFI, Letterboxd, and Wikipedia, only AFI comes the closest at 106 minutes. To be fair, the longer run time on the disc also accounts for the Kino and MGM logos at the beginning.
Picture-wise, the film was filmed with lenses and a Panaflex camera by Panavision. Interestingly, the film isn’t a brand new master of the original negative. If it were, it would not have the scratches that continually pop up on the screen while watching the film. This is not idea but it is what it is. This is the first home video release in 20 years and I’m assuming that the 2002 DVD is in a similar situation with the picture.
There’s no denying that Tim Conway is a comedy legend. I cannot stress this enough. It’s certainly not a memorable film by any means. If this film didn’t star Conway, I would have probably just scrolled down in the email announcing the release. My initial thoughts are that the film probably fared better in its original 1978 release. But in watching the film today, the comedy material just doesn’t really hold up. Even with the slapstick moments that feel few and far between, it’s not at the level of a Mel Brooks film where I immediately start cracking up. When they get their assignment from the governor, it’s one of the moments where I laughed hysterically from seeing their behavior while he was looking away from the camera and out the window. There really needed to be more funny moments like this.
The premise is ripe for comedy but they can only stretch it out so far. A pair of Powder Springs police officers, Dewey (Tim Conway) and Wallace (Chuck McCann), get assigned by Governor Ron Clark to get close to an prison inmate, Butch Collins, and find out what happened to $200 thousand worth of stolen government money. The only people who know about this are the governor, Dewey, and Wallace. It’s so top secret that not even anyone else on the staff knows about this. They have a month to obtain the information.
In a classic case where the comedy writes itself, the governor dies and is succeeded in office by another governor. Again, nobody else has any knowledge of this plot. Making matters worse is that a group of inmates have broken out of Goose Creek Prison Farm and pose as officers. It’s at this point in the film where anything that can go wrong will certainly go wrong. It’s in this part that Conway knows what he’s doing. I probably wouldn’t do what they do when it comes to hiding from the escaped prisoners but that’s just part of the comedy here–they pretend to be Japanese. In the end, everything works itself out and in a matter of irony, they find themselves back at Goose Creek, not as secret agents working undercover but as warden and deputy.
Tim Conway is a comedy legend but They Went That-A-Way & That-A-Way is not his finest work.
- Theatrical Trailer
DIRECTORS: Stuart E. McGowan and Edward Montagne
SCREENWRITER: Tim Conway
CAST: Tim Conway, Chuck McCann, Reni Santoni, Timothy Blake, Lenny Montana, Dub Taylor, and Richard Kiel
The International Picture Show Company released They Went That-A-Way & That-A-Way in theaters on October 5, 1978. Grade: 3/5
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