|Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round|
Theatrical film poster
|Directed by||Bernard Girard|
|Produced by||Carter DeHaven|
|Written by||Bernard Girard|
|Music by||Stu Phillips|
|Edited by||William A. Lyon|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round is a 1966 crime film written and directed by Bernard Girard, starring James Coburn, Camilla Sparv, Aldo Ray, Nina Wayne, Todd Armstrong, Robert Webber, and Rose Marie. Harrison Ford also appears (in his uncredited film debut) as a bellhop.
Con man Eli Kotch (James Coburn) charms his way into a parole by playing on the emotions of a pretty psychologist (Marian McCargo), but drops her at the first opportunity to move around the country, romancing women and then stealing their possessions, or those of their employers. He's made a down payment on the blueprints to a bank at Los Angeles International Airport, but needs to raise $85,000 to complete the purchase.
In Boston, he seduces and marries Inger Knudsen (Camilla Sparv), the secretary of a wealthy elderly woman. Eli sends her to L.A. to set up housekeeping, on the pretext that a songwriter there is interested in his poetry. Meanwhile, he burgles another woman (Rose Marie) to get the final amount of money he needs. Eli heads to L.A., where he begins to assemble his gang (Severn Darden, Aldo Ray and Michael Strong) for the bank robbery, which is timed to take place while the airport is distracted by the arrival of the Premier of the Soviet Union.
To keep her occupied, Eli sends Inger to take Polaroid snapshots around L.A., supposedly for a magazine article he is writing. Using costumes stolen from a movie studio, he and one of the gang masquerade as an Australian policeman escorting an extradited prisoner in order to get through airport security, while the other two dress as LAPD policemen to get into the bank, bypass the alarm, and get a bank employee to open the safe.
The gang pulls off the heist and makes a successful getaway to Mexico on a plane. Eli has no idea that Inger has been frantically trying to get in touch with him, because she has inherited $7 million from her former employer.
Working titles for this film were "Eli Kotch" and "The Big Noise". The actual title used, Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round appears in the film as the novel being written by Coburn's character under the pseudonym of "Henry Silverstein". Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round was later used as the title of a book of short stories written by Japanese author Haruki Murakami and first published in 1985.