Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan



Woody is showing a lot more control of his material here. There are no real slow spots, it just keeps barreling on, one insane situation to the next. From the opening credits, a catchy tune in Spanish accompanied by automatic gunfire, we’re off to the races. Woody is his usual schlemiel, but I hadn’t gotten tired of that role yet. He gets involved in a revolution in a Central American country. (Right at the beginning Howard Cosell covers the assassination of the elected leader for ABC Sports, even going down on one knee to interview the dying El Presidente. It’s all treated as a timeless ritual as formulaic as a football game.) So Woody helps take down the dictator. There’s a long line of people taking a number and waiting to be killed before a firing squad. He becomes the ambassador to the US—all of this to impress his sweetheart, Louise Lasser—and is arrested and tried. The courtroom scenes are among his best. At one time he is bound and gagged (a reference to the Chicago 8 trial going on around then) and manages to bring a witness to tears just by mumbling though his gag. Then someone bursts into the courtroom with a tearful confession, a la Perry Mason … and is embarrassed to discover he’s in the wrong courtroom. Later, J. Edgar Hoover appears to testify, disguised as a large black woman. Prescient? And for the grand finale, Howard Cosell is back, covering the consummation of Woody’s marriage to Louise. It feels ad libbed, and at one point Howard can’t stop himself from laughing. Really, a comic masterpiece.