Synopsis by Clarke Fountain
This comedy is notable as the final onscreen appearance (non-speaking) of Edward Everett Horton, a staple comic supporting actor from the early '30s onward. Dick Van Dyke plays an ambitious small-town minister who rallies the whole town to meet a challenge bet by a tobacco corporation. Cooked up by the tobacco company's public relations head (Bob Newhart), the bet is an offer to pay twenty five million dollars ($25,000,000.00) to any town that can quit smoking for the required period of time. Barnard Hughes is Dr. Proctor, a heart surgeon who has to be physically restrained to prevent him from smoking. Jean Stapleton is the mayor's wife, who swells visibly as her eating replaces cigarettes. Edward Everett Horton is eloquent as the mysterious tobacco tycoon who comes to observe the chaos first-hand. There is lots of frantic action as the townsfolk try to win the prize, and the tobacco company (which has no intention of paying off the bet) works to sabotage their efforts.
heart-surgeon, minister, small-town, smoking, smoking-cessation, tobacco, tycoon