A Magical Joy of a Film
CalgaryAlphan | 12/05/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Originally titled "The Taxman" and then sometimes known as "Promise Her Anything" or "Love and
Debt", this movie had never received a wide release until now. (And due to the different titles there
is great confusion amongst sites like IMDB and Amazon about which movie is which!
Maybe they'll eventually sort it out now that this DVD release has happened.)
"Nothing To Declare" is a warm, charming, funny, entertaining, audience-friendly and endearing look
at a small town in Canada (called Putterton) which has a long and secret history of not
paying taxes - at all! A new taxman (or woman, as the case may be) comes to town for an
audit and everything snowballs from there. Compounding the town's problems is a large
commercial Wal-Mart-type store (personified by the Devilish cigar-chomping Patrick
Bergin) that wants to open up and will likely mean the end of many of the small family-run
businesses on Main Street.
The lead character, George Putter (of the founding family of Putterton), is played by the
very appealing and talented Billy Zane, who at the time was hot off his success in James
Cameron's "Titanic" and quite famously got involved in this movie by accident (there were
two movies being filmed called "The Taxman" and Billy's agent mixed them up and got him
involved in the wrong picture - but Billy liked it and decided to sign on.) Billy plays his part
with a good degree of sensitivity, and a touch of goofy charm, which works equally well
through the films dramatic and comedic moments.
This is also the last theatrical film in which Barry Morse has appeared - and if it does indeed end
up being his final theatrical film, it is certainly a very worthy one! He plays George Putter's
great-great-grandfather, who returns as a ghost to give guidance to young George. Barry
is absolutely perfectly cast in this role and it is a delight to see him feature significantly
and repeatedly throughout the film. He brings a strength and a theatricality (and a bit of a
mischievous charm!) to the Reverend Adam Putter - a role which, to my eye, encapsulates
an almost perfect late-career Barry Morse part. There is simply so much of "Barry" and his
trademark gestures and expressions (and vocal intonations!) in this performance - He clearly
relishes the opportunity to be funny, touching, and dramatic - what more could an actor
(or his fans) want than that?
I'd love to say more, but I'll be in danger of giving away too much for those of you who've
not seen it yet. I will just add a couple fast notes about the DVD release itself. Presented
here, the film is in a Full Screen format (not Widescreen). I have no idea why, as this was a
theatrical film and certainly filmed in Widescreen. Why it wouldn't be released that way is
beyond me. Anyway, having a Widescreen television, I just switched the settings over and
watched it in Widescreen anyway. I found it to be very well framed and composed, and
didn't have any sense that I was missing out on the parts of the image I wasn't seeing. So,
no real problem there. Also, as might be expected, there are no extras on this release. But
who's complaining? With such a treat of a film finally finding wide release, I am more than
happy with the DVD product as it stands.
So, to wrap up, "Nothing To Declare" is a magical joy of a movie. It makes you laugh and
also touches your heart. I recommend it very highly."
Wonderful gem of a film
Anthony Wynn | Portland, Oregon, USA | 03/29/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a delightful movie, starring Billy Zane ("Titanic") and Barry Morse ("The Fugitive" and "Space: 1999"). In the vein of the classic "It's A Wonderful Life", it's a warm, wonderful gem of a film that's both humorous and dramatic. Highly recommended!"