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Second-rate actor Jack Albany (Dick Van Dyke) finds himself mistaken for fiendish killer Ace Williams and whisked off to master gangster Leo Smooth's (Edward G. Robinson) fortified mansion. He is forced to continue with the charade what with all the rough-looking hoods around, even when he finds he is to play a deadly role in the theft of the Van Gogh masterpiece "Field of Sunflowers". But at least there is lovely art teacher Sally (Dorothy Provine) who could become an ally — if she ever believes his story.
Further complications ensue when the real Ace Williams (Jack Elam) shows up, making it even more difficult for Albany to keep up his false identity. Eventually, Albany outwits the gangsters and foils the robbery.
Disney and Crime Movies
This film was one of several Disney films that featured individuals facing off with criminals: on TV, the Mickey Mouse Club featured installments of the Hardy Boys and on screen, The Moon-Spinners found Hayley Mills battling a thief. On the prime time Wonderful World of Disney, the miniseries The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh saw a ruthless masked vigilante battle evildoers in 18th century England, starring Patrick McGoohan in the title character. Later, the studio did comic films like this one, balancing drama with comedy, which attracted families and other fans. This film (and the later crime comedies) did well and attracted positive reviews.
Dick Van Dyke as Jack Albany
Edward G. Robinson as Leo Joseph Smooth
Dorothy Provine as Sally Inwood
Henry Silva as Frank Boley
Joanna Cook Moore as Melanie Smooth
Tony Bill as Florian
Slim Pickens as Cowboy Schaeffer
Jack Elam as Ace Williams
Ned Glass as Rinzy Tobreski
Richard Bakalyan as Bobby Macoon
Mickey Shaughnessy as Francis
Philip Coolidge as Fingers Felton
James Millhollin as Museum Director