April 21, 2007 Originally published on Panopticist
In 1980, the same year Airplane! was released, Robert Hays starred in a made-for-TV movie called The Girl, the Gold Watch, and Everything, a sci-fi comedy about a man who inherits a magic pocket watch that can stop time. I thought this was the coolest thing ever; what kid hasn’t dreamed of having the power to stop time, especially when that power is used to make a girl’s bikini top fall off, as happens in the movie? I’ve always remembered The Girl, the Gold Watch, and Everything, and in recent years I’ve poked around the web a few times trying to find a copy. Finally, a few weeks ago, I stumbled onto a pirated file on one of those secret BitTorrent sites. I am somewhat amazed that other people remember this silly thing and would go to the trouble of uploading it to the world.
The movie is far, far worse than I remembered, a low-budget extravaganza with an aesthetic that’s distinctly A-Team. Hays plays Kirby Winter, a lazy guy who inherits an heirloom watch—and, much to his initial chagrin, nothing else—from an uncle who was a wildly successful businessman. Kirby eventually discovers the watch’s incredible powers, which allow him to freeze a scene and physically alter it in big and small ways. (This same ability was the driving gimmick in Nicholson Baker’s erotic novel The Fermata.) With the help of a ditzy Southern damsel played by Pam Dawber, of Mork and Mindy, Kirby fights off several bad guys who want to steal the watch; he uses its powers to escape parking tickets, evade the police and the villains, and halt bullets in midair. Just like Neo in The Matrix!
In the scene below, Kirby discovers what the watch can do.
(The movie was based on a novel by John D. McDonald. A sequel, The Girl, the Gold Watch, and Dynamite, was aired the following year, but Hays and Dawber were not in the cast.)