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Some Kind of a Nut (1969), written and directed by Garson Kanin, is a comedy about nonconformity, but it's also essentially the story of a beard. (Its working title was The One with the Fuzz.) Dick Van Dyke plays a milquetoast bank teller going through a divorce with his domineering wife of five years (Angie Dickinson). He plans to marry another teller (Rosemary Forsyth). But when Van Dyke is stung by a bee and grows a beard to cover the sting, he is suddenly seen by his bank managers, and others, as rebellious, setting off a chain of comic events. Meanwhile, Dickinson appears constantly in his imagination, continuing to criticize him at every turn.
Dick Van Dyke made this picture immediately following Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968). In his memoir My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business, Van Dyke recounted that he greatly enjoyed working for a second time here with Angie Dickinson (following their 1965 Norman Jewison comedy The Art of Love). He also wrote, "The partnership with Garson [Kanin], who was lovely and came to the set each day dressed to the nines, didn't work out as I had hoped. It was nothing he did or didn't do; the material, envisioned as a social satire, just never panned out."
This was Garson Kanin's final film as director. He directed a total of 16 features and short subjects throughout his career, including Bachelor Mother (1939), The Great Man Votes (1939) and My Favorite Wife (1940), but he remains best remembered as a prolific writer of stage and screen, with such credits as the play Born Yesterday and the films A Double Life (1947) and Adam's Rib (1949). His last two films both came out in 1969 (Where It's At was the other) because of an unusual shooting schedule. In an effort to accommodate Van Dyke's many other film commitments, Some Kind of a Nut was shot in two parts -- first for two weeks in May 1968, on location in New York, and then the rest in January 1969, in Hollywood.
This was supposed to be the first film of a four-picture contract between Kanin and producer Walter Mirisch, but the other films never materialized. The talented Mirisch, who had recently won a Best Picture Oscar® for In the Heat of the Night (1967), didn't even mention Some Kind of a Nut in his 2008 memoir.
Perhaps the lackluster critical and box-office reception left a sour taste. Critics called the film dated in style and content, with The New York Times remarking that it "sounds like something out of Kanin's trunk." And Variety found the "premise...too light and whimsical on which to base a full-length feature," adding that it "plods unevenly through much that is mostly unfunny, although occasionally striking an amusing note."
This was the last film for 71-year-old actor Dennis King, a renowned Broadway star of the previous four decades who also had movie credits dating back to 1930.
Producer: Walter Mirisch
Director: Garson Kanin
Screenplay: Garson Kanin (writer)
Cinematography: Enrique Bravo, Burnett Guffey, Gerald Hirschfeld
Music: Johnny Mandel
Film Editing: Richard W. Farrell
Cast: Dick Van Dyke (Fred Amidon), Angie Dickinson (Rachel Amidon), Rosemary Forsyth (Pamela Anders), Zohra Lampert (Bunny Erickson), Elliott Reid (Gardner), Steve Roland (Baxter), Dennis King (Otis Havemeyer), Pippa Scott (Dr. Sara), Peter Brocco (Mr. Suzumi), Robert Ito (George Toyota)
by Jeremy Arnold