Digging for Dutch

Digging for Dutch


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

This is not so much a treasure doc as an upstate New York small town story.

Dutch Schultz, the gangster, was reputed to have hidden $7million of his ill-gotten gains somewhere near Phoenicia during a visit to his holiday home. Later, he was gunned down in the traditional manner, leaving no clue as to where the loot was buried.

Copy picture

Phoenicia is full of odd people. That's the fun of it. Forget the obsessives, with their metal seeking devices, who talk of "the map", and that fellow who dug a hole the size of New Zealand in someone else's garden. Meet the downhome folk. They are far more interesting.

Hey! There's Joey Ramone, looking wasted, and an ex-Grateful Dead roadie, with his dog, and an animal trainer, teaching a terrier to hump a doll, and a retired bootlegger, with Mafia connections.

Once a year, they close the place down and have a square dance in the main street. You can't help but love them. They also play cow bingo, betting on the precise square in a field where the freshest pat might be deposited.

How do they feel about tourists and money grubs, sniffing about and looking under rocks? The ones who like to walk in the garden with no clothes on are a bit miffed, while professional treasure-hunters are discouraged ("He doesn't know what he's talking about, know what I'm talking about?"), because it's all too serious and high tech, when, for most of them, this is is more of a hobby.

You feel that Dutch is having the last laugh. "It's the pleasure of possibility," someone says, like searching for a rainbow underwater.

Has filmmaker Laura Levine made it all up? Nothing is quite normal. Who says Americans aren't eccentric? Digging little holes in Phoenicia? Pull the other one.

Reviewed on: 06 Aug 2002
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Documentary about the world's most wacky treasure hunt.

Director: Laura Levine

Year: 2001

Runtime: 88 minutes

Country: USA


EIFF 2002

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