Big Gus, What's the Fuss? (also known as Ha-Balash Ha'Amitz Shvartz and Fat Spy) was a 1973 Israeli comedy film directed by Ami Artzi and American director Lloyd Kaufman, the president of Troma Entertainment. The plot revolves around a Hebrew detective named Gus and his partner Harry who are hired by a woman to investigate a possible case of adultery.
Lloyd Kaufman has stated that Big Gus is the "biggest failure, monetarily and artistically, of my entire life" and that the film "did more damage to the Jewish people than Mein Kampf".
The idea of Big Gus came from producer Ami Artzi, who convinced Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz that making a comedy movie in Israel would be a sure-fire hit. Artzi assured Kaufman that Israel was eager to make films, enough so to give filmmakers extra funds, and that if a movie were to be released there, everyone in the country would go see it. The promise that a G-rated Hebrew family film showing in American synagogues would be successful as well also contributed to two versions being filmed: a version in Hebrew and a version in English. Kaufman, Herz, and friend Andy Slack (the future president of NBC News) ended up writing a script that they found "decent at best".
Kaufman and Herz flew to Tel Aviv and received from Artzi an English rewrite of their script which Kaufman felt 'sucked', but decided to carry on regardless since the production was already underway and the producers promised that the film was "perfect for the Israeli market". At the insistence of the Israeli co-producers, it was suggested that Artzi co-direct, thus relinquishing Lloyd's control over the film.
By the time production finished, Kaufman and Herz actually ended up owing just about everybody who worked on the film large amounts of money and the day Big Gus opened in theatres, war broke out in Israel, thus ruining a chance to make a profit. Kaufman and Herz tried renting out the film for showings in American synagogues; out of thousands, only a few accepted, one of which allegedly refused to pay the rental fee after viewing it. Understandably, the film has never been released on video. However, Troma Studios, Kaufman's production company, has made the film available for digital download at its store website.
One person who participated in the making of this film went on to have an outstanding Hollywood career: Dov Hoenig, who was an editor on it. He has worked on a lot of major Hollywood films (including most of Michael Mann's efforts) and was nominated for an Academy Award in 1993 for his work on The Fugitive.
- ↑ Script error