When you need a master of disguise detective and Fletch is on vacation, who you gonna call? Well private investigator Harry Crumb is next down on the list.
Taglines – Nerves of steel. Body of iron. Brain of stone.
The TriStar Pictures logo fades into smooth jazz funk as a sexy blond starts to undress. Red high heels first, then slowly removing her stockings before lying naked on a table. She is at a beauty spa, ready to be applied with a full body mud pack. Unfortunately her tranquil, relaxing treatment is about to be ruined as a chloroformed handkerchief is placed across her mouth. Jennifer Downing (Renée Coleman) has been kidnapped!
Jennifer’s dad, millionaire P.J. Downing (Barry Corbin) is obviously distraught. What was he to do? He needed a private detective. He needed the best man that money could buy. Anything just to get his precious daughter back.
PJ knows Eliot Draisen (Jeffrey Jones) the president of a detective agency called Crumb & Crumb. Just by seeing Eliot Draisen, we the viewer know this guy is a slime bag and a bit of a wrongen. Reluctant to give PJ one of his best detectives, he offers the services of the last surviving descendants of the legendary Crumb agency founders. The larger than life Harry Crumb (John Candy) at your service. He may fool you with his bumbling, incompetent ways but under that clumsy and cuddly exterior sits a brilliant master mind. He’s also armed with exceptional martial arts skills.
Harry Crumb – “Dangerous? Dangerous? I’ve got a black belt in aikido and the boots to match”
Harry’s on the case. He starts the investigation at PJ’s mansion, meeting his nympho wife Helen Downing (Annie Potts) and her tennis coach Vince Barnes (Tim Thomerson). Wandering around searching for clues he bumps into the friendly and fiesty face of the kidnapped girls, younger sister Nikki (Shawnee Smith). Nikki is keen to help Harry bring her sister back and with the arrival of a ransom note they team up together. Detective Casey (Valri Bromfield) from the police force is also called in and now all the players are on the board.
Detective Casey – “Over the years I discovered a theory about private detectives. They’re slime and without exception they are lazy, stupid, cowardly, arrogratant and thoroughly incompetent.”
Harry Crumb – “……………It’s just a theory”
Can Harry and his new assistant Nikki unravel the puzzle and figure out who the kidnappers are? One thing’s for sure, if Harry’s involved there’s gonna be a whole heap of mishaps happening alongside a super cheesy and overpowering soundtrack.
Let’s meet Harry Crumb’s alter egos as he goes deep undercover.
What’s everyone else been in?
- Who’s Harry Crumb? is directed by Paul Flaherty who was a writer on the Canadian sketch show SCTV which starred John Candy alongside other soon to be big household names. Like Catherine O’Hara, Rick Moranis, Harold Ramis and Eugene Levy to name a few. Paul’s brother Joe Flaherty from SCTV also has a bit part in the film.
- There’s so many comedy and film connections in Who’s Harry Crumb?. Jeffrey Jones is his usual brilliant self. You will of course know him so well as the crazy headteacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and the bonkers scientist from Howard The Duck.
- Annie Potts will be familiar as Janine Melnitz the Ghostbusters secretary. She was also punk rocker Iona in Pretty In Pink and she soon to be back on the big screen, well in animation, as her recurring role as Bo Peep in the soon to be released Toy Story 4.
- Barry Corbin has been all over the screens for over four decades. Looking at his IMDB page he has nine films in post-production! He will always be best known to me as Warden Walter Beatty from Stir Crazy.
- Shawnee Smith would later become one of the big horror scream queens with her recurring role as Amanda in the Saw fancisie and later appearing in The Grudge 3.
- Tim Thomerson is cult favourite Jack Deth from the good fun series of films Trancers. He was also in the excellent Near Dark (which I really need to see again). He’s also a B-movie making machine with 200 odd credits to his name.
John Candy has always been one of my favourite comic actors. He never fails to bring a smile to my face, even if the film isn’t that great you can still get pleasure from his lovely manner. Obviously Who’s Harry Crumb? is down on his list of brilliant films but it has so much heart and John Candy just shines throughout. I read somewhere that this could of been a start of a Harry Crumb series of films. Such a shame it didn’t happen. It’s a perfect vehicle of his slapstick style and one calamity mishap after another. Shawnee Smith works well with him in their scenes together and it would of been amazing to have had them joining forces for more private detective work.
So enjoyed watching this again after so many years. It still made me chuckle. So many favorite scenes but here’s a few. The aikido back flip, the dizzy walk, the jockey scene and the chest hairs to hairy muff to beard scene cracks me up everytime. Silly, simple and darn funny. Pure 80’s comedy romp fun. Do you have a soft spot for Harry Crumb? Do you have favorite John Candy films? Let me know if you wish.
PS this is a beautiful article written in the Hollywood Reporter with John Candy’s daughter Jen and son Chris. Featuring personal family photos, stories and lovely memories of their beloved Dad. It’s a very recommend read John Candy Remembered
Thanks for popping by. All the best… Mikey Wolf
Harry Crumb – “My reputation precedes me. Otherwise I’d be late for all my appointments”