It will be a sad day when I run out of late 70’s-early 80’s made-for-tv movies (that I haven’t already seen) to watch, but then I will most likely just watch my favorite ones over and over like I do with everything else. One such gem is a forgotten 1980 “science fiction” classic, The Girl, The Gold Watch & Everything, which was based on a 1962 novel. This cute little oddball of a tv movie stars Robert Hays (best known for his role as the washed up pilot Ted Striker in Airplane!) as a young man named Kirby Winter who inherits a gold watch from his obscenely wealthy uncle. Kirby doesn’t think much of the rather ordinary looking antique watch at first, but he soon discovers it has the power to stop time. (This was in fact the secret to how his uncle became rich.)
Of course, problems arise when Kirby realizes that a very greedy and dangerous pair: Charla O’Rourke and Joseph Locordolos (played by Jill Ireland and Ed Nelson respectively) are also interested in this little secret and will stop at nothing to obtain the watch for their own sinister purposes. In the process of evading the couple, Kirby encounters a quirky and attractive girl named Bonnie Lee Beaumont (Pam Dawber), who becomes his romantic interest for the remainder of the film. After a number of close calls and climactic sequence on a yacht, Kirby and Bonnie eventually outwit their tormentors.
As with many of these made-for-tv movies, there is the sense here that this was potentially going to become a regular series (In the advertising promo, Robert Hays even refers to it as a “show”), though none ever materialized.
According to ModCinema:
First syndicated to local stations on October 13, 1980, The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything was offered in two versions: as a standard 2-hour movie, and as cliff-hanging series of five half-hour programs. So successful was this non-network effort that it spawned a 1981 sequel, The Girl, the Gold Watch & Dynamite
Disappointingly, the sequel contains almost none of the same actors, thereby losing some of its earned charm.
And make no mistake, The Girl, The Gold Watch & Everything is a charming film. It seems so innocent and fun that at times it almost feels like you’re watching a Disney movie or one of those ABC Weekend Specials that used to air after Saturday morning cartoons. However, there are some adult/sexual situations and a couple of unexpectedly disturbing scenes (such as when Bonnie gets slapped around while being interrogated by Joseph) which give the movie enough of an edge to be taken seriously.
There is an inscription on the watch: “Tempus unum hominem manet” which is latin for “time waits for one man.” The experience of watching The Girl, The Gold Watch and Everything does in fact transport the viewer to a particularly appealing time, ambiance and place (and I don’t just mean Southern California in 1980), and allow them to freeze it there for a precious 90 minutes or so. This strangely inspiring movie is certainly worth a re-watch it from time to time.