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Scavenger Hunt

For the outdoor locating game, see Scavenger hunt.
Scavenger Hunt
File:Scavenger Hunt movie poster.jpg
Scavenger Hunt film poster
Directed by Michael Schultz
Produced by Steven A. Vail
Screenplay by Steven A. Vail
Henry Harper
Story by Steven A. Vail
Starring Richard Benjamin
James Coco
Scatman Crothers
Ruth Gordon
Cloris Leachman
Cleavon Little
Roddy McDowall
Robert Morley
Richard Mulligan
Tony Randall
Dirk Benedict
Willie Aames
Stephanie Faracy
Stephen Furst
Richard Masur
Music by Billy Goldenberg
Cinematography Ken Lamkin
Edited by Christopher Holmes
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • December 21, 1979 (1979-12-21)
Running time
116 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $7 million[1]

Scavenger Hunt is a 1979 comedy film with a large ensemble cast, in the mold of the 1963 comedy It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. The ensemble cast includes Richard Benjamin, James Coco, Scatman Crothers, Ruth Gordon, Cloris Leachman, Cleavon Little, Roddy McDowall, Robert Morley, Richard Mulligan, Tony Randall, Dirk Benedict, Willie Aames, Stephanie Faracy, Stephen Furst and Richard Masur. The film was directed by Michael Schultz, and released by 20th Century Fox. It includes one of the earliest movie appearances of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and features cameos by rock legend Meat Loaf and horror-movie icon Vincent Price. Filming took place in and around San Diego, California, incorporating local landmarks such as Balboa Park and the Centre City Building.


Milton Parker (Vincent Price), an elderly and eccentric game inventor, dies after losing a video game with his seductive nurse (Carol Wayne). Following his funeral, Parker's greedy and estranged relatives show up at his mansion for the reading of his will. They learn from lawyer Charles Bernstein (Robert Morley) that the winner of an elaborate scavenger hunt will inherit his $200 million estate. The (potential) beneficiaries form five teams and get involved in various misadventures.

The five teams consist of:

  1. Parker's son-in-law Henry Motley (Tony Randall) and his four ill-behaved children.
  2. The servants: French cook Henri (James Coco), valet Jenkins (Roddy McDowall), limo driver Jackson (Cleavon Little), and French maid Babbette (Stephanie Faracy).
  3. Dim-witted taxi driver Marvin Dummittz (Richard Mulligan).
  4. Parker's greedy widowed sister Mildred Carruthers (Cloris Leachman), her equally greedy attorney Stewart Sellsome (Richard Benjamin), and her spoiled, man-child son Georgie (Richard Masur).
  5. Nephews Kenny (Dirk Benedict) and Jeff Stevens (Willie Aames), with Mildred's step-daughter Lisa (Maureen Teefy).

Each group is given five lists containing clues to acquire 100 items with various point values ranging from five to 100 points. The items are to be acquired by any means necessary, with the exception of being purchased. They are to be placed in five different pens on the grounds of the estate. The winner of the scavenger hunt will be the person or team to acquire the most points by 5 p.m. that day.

Chaos and carnage ensue, with scavengers returning occasionally to the Parker mansion to deposit items under the supervision of Bernstein and the scorekeeper, Cornfeld.

Mildred, Stewart and Georgie's adventure has them trying to win a stuffed toy bear at a local carnival, trying to haul a heavy safe out of Stewart's office building, stealing the false teeth of a Native American (who spends the rest of the movie tracking them down), as well as resorting to stealing other people's items. Stewart gets roughed up by a motorcycle gang led by a burly guy named Scum (Meat Loaf) after attempting to steal a stuffed fox tail from a biker.

The servants' adventure has them trying to steal a toilet from a fancy hotel, partaking in a robbery at a convenience store to steal a cash register (sans the cash), and getting locked in a university laboratory while trying to steal a microscope.

Kenny, Jeff and Lisa's adventure has them "borrowing" items such as a clown head from a local Jack in the Box eatery and recruiting an obese man named Duane (Stuart Pankin) (since the list gives 50 bonus points for bringing the heaviest person), although they soon discard him (due to his unreasonable bribes for food) and pick up another obese person. A bulletproof vest is borrowed from a self-defense-obsessed elderly lady named Arvila (Ruth Gordon) and they acquire "laughing gas," steal a uniform from a motorcycle cop, and get stuck in a football team's locker room trying to steal a helmet.

Dummittz' adventure has him trying unsuccessfully to steal a Rolls Royce front grill and getting run over many times. A bridal shop security guard named Sam (Scatman Crothers) catches him attempting to steal a bridal dress. Sam joins the hunt. Together they steal a knight's suit of armor from a museum, with Marvin dressing up as a mummy and Sam putting on the armor. Sam is stolen by the Mildred-Stewart-Georgie team. Marvin then teams up with obese friend Merl (Stephen Furst).

Motley's adventure has him attempting to make his unruly kids proud while acquiring a beehive (he gets stung), a life preserver (he gets stranded), and a parachute (he gets a flat tire). Motley tries to get a medicine ball from a gym and to impress the instructor Lars (Arnold Schwarzenegger), which gets Motley thrown out of a second floor window trying to catch a medicine ball thrown to him.

Each team steals an ostrich from the San Diego Zoo, much to the dismay of the bewildered zookeeper (Avery Schreiber).

It all leads to a climactic car chase back to the Parker mansion. Some give up their individual chances to win in order to help Kenny, Jeff and Lisa win against the unethical Mildred-Stewart-Georgie team. With seconds to go, Sam, still wearing the armor, has to crawl out of the Carruthers' pen and into the other pen to win the contest for the Stevens brothers and Lisa. The victors decide to share their new wealth with the rest, except for Mildred, Stewart and Georgie.


Home media

Scavenger Hunt was first issued on video cassette (both Beta and VHS formats) in 1983 by CBS/FOX Home Video. It was deleted in the mid-1990s. This movie was never issued on any videodisc format (CED or Laserdisc) and, as of 2015, has not yet been released to DVD or Blu-ray.


  1. ^ Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p259

See also

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