(US/Spain - 1983)
Directed by Ferdinando Baldi. Written by Lloyd Battista, Jim Bryce, and Jerry Lazarus. Cast: Tony Anthony, Ana Obregon, Gene Quintano, Jerry Lazarus, Francisco Rabal, Emiliano Redondo, Francisco Villena, Lewis Gordon. (PG, 101 mins)
When 1983's TREASURE OF THE FOUR CROWNS aired on The Movie Channel's JOE BOB'S DRIVE IN-THEATER back in the late '80s, host Joe Bob Briggs remarked that it was "the first hit in a series of one" for producer/star Tony Anthony. A funny line, yes, but not exactly true. Though he enjoyed some minor success and his COMIN' AT YA! was a surprise hit in 1981, he is, for the most part, an almost completely-forgotten C-lister as far as mainstream audiences are concerned. But the long, strange journey of Tony Anthony is the kind of oddball story that should be made into a movie. He wanted to run his career his own way, and like most independent-minded mavericks, his career achievements, such as they were, came about from ingenuity, perseverance, salesmanship, and having some good friends in unexpected places.
A STRANGER IN TOWN (1967), THE STRANGER RETURNS (1967), and THE SILENT STRANGER (shot in 1968, shelved until 1975) has varying degrees of success in America and Anthony took on more creative control as the series went on. Swimmer, meanwhile, directed the 1968 Herman's Hermits movie MRS. BROWN, YOU'VE GOT A LOVELY DAUGHTER and, through his friendship with Abkco Records chief and Rolling Stones manager Allen Klein, would eventually be part of the Beatles' inner circle once Klein took over managing the band after Brian Epstein's death in 1967. Swimmer co-produced the Beatles' 1970 documentary LET IT BE and would later direct George Harrison's THE CONCERT FOR BANGLADESH (1972). Anthony would eventually be pulled into the Beatles' orbit via his old friend Swimmer, and the pair wrote the post-EASY RIDER road movie COME TOGETHER (1971), starring Anthony, directed by Swimmer and produced by the pair with Ringo Starr. Starr and Anthony hit it off, and after COME TOGETHER, Starr co-starred in Anthony's next film, 1971's BLINDMAN, co-produced by Klein and directed by Italian journeyman Ferdinando Baldi. Due mostly to the novelty of seeing a former Beatle playing a bad guy in a spaghetti western, BLINDMAN was, to that point, Anthony's most significant success with American audiences. In 1972, he starred in the Italian gangster film 1931: ONCE UPON A TIME IN NEW YORK, unfortunately retitled PETE, PEARL AND THE POLE for its US release, one of the last titles handled by National General Pictures. In 1975, he and Baldi made GET MEAN, the fourth and final "Stranger" outing. Anthony appeared in just 12 films from 1961 to 1975, and other than BLINDMAN and whatever cult status his spaghetti obscurities have, his career appeared stalled and he didn't even pursue hired-gun acting gigs.
hit for Filmways in 1981. Anthony and his collaborators had one goal: throw everything at the screen. Audiences loved it, though obviously because of the novelty of 3-D rather than the inanities of Anthony's script. COMIN' AT YA! was enough of a success that the same creative personnel--Anthony, Quintano, Lupo, and Baldi--moved on to their next 3-D outing, TREASURE OF THE FOUR CROWNS, a modernized but still quite blatant ripoff of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. Anthony and Quintano conceived the story, which was scripted by frequent Anthony collaborator Lloyd Battista, Jim Bryce, and co-star Jerry Lazarus. Shot in Spain with American and Spanish actors and an Italian crew, with music by none other than Ennio Morricone, TREASURE OF THE FOUR CROWNS was acquired by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus and released by Cannon in US theaters on January 21, 1983. By this time, the second big 3-D craze was underway with the previous year's FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 and PARASITE, and, later in 1983, films like JAWS 3-D, AMITYVILLE 3-D, METALSTORM: THE DESTRUCTION OF JARED-SYN, and SPACEHUNTER: ADVENTURES IN THE FORBIDDEN ZONE. Additionally, 3-D classics from the first wave like 1953's HOUSE OF WAX and 1954's DIAL M FOR MURDER were given nationwide re-releases to capitalize on the trend. To the surprise of no one, the fad fizzled as quickly as it did 30 years earlier, but the renewed enthusiasm, however brief, can largely be credited to Tony Anthony and COMIN' AT YA!
|Tony Anthony doing a Q&A|
at a 2012 screening of
COMIN' AT YA!