Back in the day when men were 'real-men', and women were 'real-women', people enjoyed shooting at each other with plastic pistols. Honestly. I saw it in this funny western about a man and his moustache. It was Directed by Jerry Paris; and Starred: John Astin, Pamela Austin, Mickey Rooney, Dick Shawn, and Dom DeLuise. It was made in 1973, and lasted for a whole 97 minutes. Yeee-hawwww!

Evil Roy Slade

For the majority of his life nobody showed any love or affection towards the outlaw, Evil Roy Slade (John Astin). Now I say this not only because was he abandoned by his parents as a very small child. Oh no! But also because the head of the Western Union railway company, Nelson L. Stool (Mickey Rooney), wants' to capture him for ruining his business.

Don't fret though, folks. Evil does eventually find true love when he kisses the adorable Betsy Potter (Pamela Austin) whilst robbing a bank with his gang. In fact, this romantic liaison drives Evil so crazy, that he is willing to give up his wicked ways and become a righteous man for the first time ever.   

Granted, Evil being evil, this doesn't happen to him straight away. No. Of course not. First he gets arrested by Nelson's son, Clifford Stool (Henry Gibson). Then he breaks out of jail thanks to Nelson's dog, whatever his name is. And finally both he and Betsy travel all the way to Boston to start a new life together in pastures new.

However, once they arrive at this urban lo-cal, Evil is none too sure if he can change his mean streak! Well, will Betsy's cousin, Dr. Logan Delp (Dom DeLuise), be able to cure him with physiotherapy? Furthermore, when Betsy's uncle, Harry Fern (Milton Berle), offers him a job working at his shoe store, with this work out or not?

Ouch! Those are some pretty darn good questions, aren't they? Still. That's most probably why what next transpires all begins when Evil runs true to form. As Marshal Bing Bell (Dick Shawn) comes a knocking - the adorable Betsy goes a courting - a wedding comes a crashing - and at the end of the day everyone starts a shooting. BANG! BANG!

The End. For Now.

Now believe it or not, 'Evil Roy Slade' made me find my humorous streak whilst I was a small lad at school. Picture the scene. Me. About seven years of age. Sitting in a Maths lesson at primary school. Waiting for my teacher to ask me a question about this numerical subject. "Now if you had ten apples" she said to me "How many apples would you have left if your neighbour took two of them?" she continued. Then suddenly -- SHAZAM! -- in a moment of lunacy, I replied back to her by gleefully stating "All ten apples and one dead neighbour".

Ha! Yep. This is the type of stuff you'll remember if you watch this classic made for television film. Granted, it's not one hundred percent perfect. As in places the overall narrative is slightly predictable, and it does flimflam all over the shop in that rather overt seventies manner. Moreover, here and there, you may miss a couple of quick one liner's, because of the frantic and phonetic pacing of this flick.

Still, by in large this is one of the best comedies I've ever watched in my entire life. And I place it up there with the likes of Woody Allen's, 'Take the Money and Run', and Mel Brooks', 'Blazing Saddles'; thinking of it as a mixture of these two great movies combined into one. Here, let me tell you why. (1) Stylistically this wild-west comedy is very much like a live action cartoon. The characters are all bold. The pretext is a romance about a bad-guy trying to become good. And the simplistic nature of this piece is both easy and a joy to follow. Act one: Set-up the cast. Act two: See if Evil can change his ways. Act three: DING-DONG! Game over. (2) Dick Shawn plays one of the most flamboyant Marshals ever seen on screen. Honestly. It's as though he's channelling a hippy 'Beach Boy' vibe, plus has the exuberance of someone like Liberace to boot. Hands down. You have to see it to believe it. Dick's performance is out of this world. (3) I do not have the words within me to tell you how I feel about John Astin's role in this movie. Not only because he was so amazing in it, but because he might shoot me if I said anything wrong, ha! John's a comedic star. More than a lot of people have given him credit for. (4) Although I enjoyed the first and last parts of this film a great deal, the winner for me has to be the middle section where the likes of Dom DeLuise and Milton Berle's characters, attempts to make 'Evil' good. Trust me. This section was a blast to watch. I couldn't stop laughing all the way throughout it because of its quick witted and funny tone. (5) Without a shadow of a doubt, all of the supporting actors really did support this movie. Mickey was his mannered best. Henry played the comedic foil to a tea. And Pamela was as lovely as lovely can be. (6) Now if I had one slight gripe with this film, it would have to be that 'tele-visual' faux-par of guns shooting and constantly missing their target. Nah! This gaff wasn't really to my own tastes. And came across as very... errr... unneeded.

OK, I know that I could go on and praise the evil out of 'Evil Roy Slade', but you don't want that, do you dear reader? You want some filmic facts instead. (1) This television movie first aired on the NBC television network, on the 18th of February, 1972. (2) It has been stated in the past that the style of this comedy inspired such spoofs as 'Airplane!', and the 'Naked Gun' series of films. (3) Did you know that this production was based on an un-produced TV pilot called 'Sheriff Who'? It was given this title because each week there was supposed to be a new sheriff played by a 'special guest star', mainly because 'Evil Roy Slade' would kill this law man by the end of each episode. (4) If you look very closely at the scene where Roy takes his toy cowboy hat off, in the very next scene he's still wearing it. Oops! A little gaff. (5) One of the writers on this film, Jerry Belson, is best known for devising the screenplay for 'The Odd Couple' series of comedies'. Whereas the other writer on this film, Garry Marshal, is best known for producing 'Happy Day's', 'Laverne and Shirley', and 'Mork and Mindy'. (6) Evil's surname of 'Slade' is an acronym comprising of the words: Sneaking, Lying, Arrogance, Dirtiness, and Evil. (7) The actor who played the Souvenir Salesman in this comedy -- Jerry Paris -- also directed it, as well as the aforementioned 'properties' produced by Garry Marshal, and written by Jerry Belson. (8) I kid you not, Evil Roy Slade his good-self, John Astin, is a leader of a Buddhist group located in Santa Monica with his wife, Val, plus run's an Edgar Alan Poe website -- www.astin-poe.com

Overall 'Evil Roy Slade' is a must watch film. It's funny. It's very of its time. Plus it's definitely for all those comedy fans who might be interested in a TV movie that inspired the best of them. Go ahead. Make Evils day. Ha!