Oh, the fond memories I have of watching this damn thing on “The Channel Seven 3:30 Movie” when I was growing up. The Chicago ABC affiliate would cram a feature film into a ninety-minute time slot—minus commercials—every weekday before the early news. I have seen Who's Minding the Mint? (well, a good three-quarters of it) hundreds of times. Yet these days it’s rarely shown, and the only DVD release available is through Warner Archive MOD. It’s as if no one even CARES anymore about mints, or who is minding them!
It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, and like all of them, Who's Minding the Mint? suffers in comparison. WMM? shares cast members with the earlier IMMMMW: Milton Berle and Dorothy Provine appear and (virtually) reprise their earlier (better) supporting performances. WMM? even features an explicit IMMMMW moment when our protagonists make a discovery that, in attitude and musical underscoring, very much resembles the discovery of “the big W” in IMMMMW. Both movies seem to follow the logic that, if you crowd a caper comedy with enough funny supporting players, then something funny will come out of it.
It’s interesting that so many of these epic comedies explore greed and the extreme lengths to which the characters will go to receive untold riches. This is a good thing; I find characters acting out of blind greed as their sole motivation to be fertile ground for comedy. Has anyone else noticed that the characters are almost never allowed to keep the money at the end?
The Plot in Brief: After he accidently destroys $50,000 in new hundred dollar bills (whoopsies!), treasury employee Harry Lucas (Jim Hutton) hatches a plan to replace the missing money. The simplest thing, Harry reasons, would be to break into the mint after hours and print $50,000 in new bills.
BONUS TRIVIA QUESTION: Whose face appears on the $100,000 bill?
Still, the movie's main problem is too much sodden exposition. It takes nearly an hour to establish the premise; but after that happens, it’s like the director flips a switch. Once we get to the robbery sequence, the film's sense of comic invention, which up to this point has lain dormant, springs to life. The screenwriters seem to have saved up all of their comic invention for the finale.
Babies, if you like IMMMMW, or madcap heist comedies, or 1960s movies crammed with lots of stars, then you should check out WMM? And if you don’t like all of those things, then I don’t even know who you are anymore. Baaa, ba da ba da baaa!
Who's Minding the Mint? is currently available as a MOD DVD title from Warner Archive.
ANSWER TO TRIVIA QUESTION: Woodrow Wilson!