By Richard Winters
My Rating: 3 out of 10
4-Word Review: Carol Burnett does striptease.
Every time I get annoyed by many of today’s Hollywood comedies that seem to be nothing more than a stretched out idea for an episode of a sitcom, one only has to go back into time to find that the comedies of yesteryear weren’t always much better. Of course there were some classics, but a lot of vapid ones in the mix as well. In fact this one is so trite that it becomes almost agonizing to sit through. It was considered in its time to be a ‘sex farce’, but fails to deliver on either.
The old adage ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’ has never been truer in this instance. I have attended many screenwriting classes and seminars and can verify there is a lot of good stuff out there that hasn’t been read unfortunately because the authors don’t have the right connections. In this case the screenplay was written by Jack Rose who had previous writing success with such films as My Favorite Brunette, Houseboat, and The Road to Rio. Judging from its lack of creativity Rose probably wrote this real quickly to make some fast cash and the studio heads gave it the green light simply based on his past success without ever looking at it critically.
The plot, if you can call it that, has to do with TV-star Jason Steel (Dean Martin) who plays the part of a popular Dr. on a TV-series. His TV character matches all the ideal qualities that women want in a man and thus he always has women chasing after him in real-life. He even has the wives of his friends coming on to him. With so many married women telling him how unhappy they are in their marriages he begins to fear that marriage may not be a good idea and thus calls off his impending engagement to beautiful Melisa Morris (Elizabeth Montgomery). Melisa is devastated by this, so her goofy roommate Stella Irving (Carol Burnett, in her film debut) hatches up a kooky scheme in order to get him to reconsider.
This film gets tiring right from the beginning. Jason goes out with his buddies every Thursday night to play poker, but then during the game he always gets a call from one of his buddy’s wives telling him they have to see him. He leaves the game and meets them at his place and then fights off their advances. This silly scenario gets repeated four different times with all four of his friend’s wives and it’s like being told the same dumb joke over and over. This triviality ends up taking up the whole first hour before it moves into the scheme portion, which really doesn’t even measure up to a weak episode of ‘I Love Lucy’.
Out of the whole ninety minutes there are only two scenes that are mildly amusing. One is when Jason pushes everyone into a pool and they fall in like dominoes and the other is when Stella goes to a strip club and is forced to go onstage and do a striptease when she can’t pay for her drinks, which makes great use of Burnett’s ad-libbing abilities.
Burnett and Montgomery make an interesting pair. Montgomery is a good straight-man to Burnett’s zaniness and with a better script this could’ve been ideal casting. Montgomery did this film just before she started her long running series ‘Bewitched’. She looks gorgeous and gives the film’s best performance.
There is a long list of excellent male character actors here including: Martin Balsam, Jack Soo, Richard Conte, Louis Nye, and Johnny Silver. All of them are wasted with very little to do. Except for the money I don’t know why any of them took their parts.
The satirical jabs at TV-dramas are too gentle and not even good for a chuckle. If one is considering getting married then I would definitely not suggest it as the script takes so many potshots at the institution that it is liable to give anyone second thoughts.
Although this was made as a vehicle for Martin I feel even fans of Dino will be disappointed. It really doesn’t take advantage of his persona and he seems as bored with the material as the viewer and just going through the paces. Despite the interesting cast this is an all-around disappointment.
My Rating: 3 out of 10.
Released: December 25, 1963
Runtime: 1Hour 43Minutes
Rated NR (Not Rated)
Director: Delber Mann
Available: Netflix Streaming