Monthly Archives: May 2012

Fore Play (1975)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 1 out of 10

4-Word Review: This sex goes limp.

This is a boring, flat, and completely disastrous attempt at sex comedy. This is the type of teaser T & A picture that gives all other T & A pictures a bad name. Out of the entire running time there is less than a minute of any actual nudity. The sex jokes are stupid and a child could watch this and not be overly shocked. It also looks like it was meshed together on the smallest of budgets.

The film is structured much like a horror anthology with three different stories all based on the same theme in this case sex. The first one features comedian Pat Paulsen as a lonely man who buys a realistic looking sex doll (Deborah Loomis). The doll is supposed to be Polish, but her accent sound more like it is Swedish. This segment is somewhat interesting because Paulsen plays against type here. He is much more emotional and hostile. He even ends up swearing at his own mother (Sudie Bond). There is also an amusing bit of seeing him trying to get the doll, with her stiff arms and legs, into a taxi cab. However the segment goes by too fast and the ending is really stupid. Paulsen also sings here and it sounds as bad as you might expect.

The second segment features Jerry Orbach as a writer going through writer’s block. Here you see the film’s one and only offensive sight, which is having to witness George S Irving in a bikini bottom. He plays Orbach’s muse and takes him back into time to reverse certain sexual conquests that he initially bombed at. One amusing bit has him in a game where he must undress a beautiful lady in sixty seconds in order to have sex with her. He does only to find that she is frigid. Like with the first segment this one also has a really stupid ending.

The third and final story sounds like a winner, but fails terribly. It consists of Zero Mostel as the President whose daughter is kidnapped. As ransom he is forced to have sex with his wife (Estelle Parsons) on national television, which ends up being incredibly dull and unsexy. The only amusing bit, and it is a very brief one, is when one of the secret service agents has to frisk the first lady before she is allowed to hug her husband. Both Parsons and Mostel play dual roles neither of which is funny.

The film is sleep inducing. Although many sources list it with a very brief running time it ran a full 90 minutes on the print I saw, which of course only means more minutes of boredom.

My Rating: 1 out of 10

Released: March 24, 1975

Runtime: 1Hour 30Minutes

Rated R

Directors: John G. Avildsen, Bruce Malmuth, Robert McCarty

Studio: Cinema National

Available: DVD (Troma)

Better off Dead (1985)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: He can’t kill himself.

            Teenager Lane Meyer (John Cusack) is obsessed with his girlfriend Beth (Amanda Wyss) and has pictures of her plastered all over the walls of his bedroom and even on the hangers in his closet, but she ends up dumping him for a more popular guy. Lane falls into despair and tries to kill himself, but when that fails he decides to try and win her back by challenging her new boyfriend to a daring ski race down a dangerous slope.

The film has a free form style that is initially fresh and funny. Director Savage Steve Holland is a noted animator and the segment where a cartoon monster eats up Beth’s new boyfriend is engaging as is the claymation sequence involving a singing/dancing hamburger and his lady fries. The script is devoid of the crude humor, derivative sex and foul language that permeated the other teen comedies from the 80’s, which is nice. The adults here are not played as stupid, overly authoritative jerks, which was another common trend in teen comedies, but instead, at least in the case of Lane’s dad Al (David  Ogden Stiers) a very rational and intelligent man who ended up being my favorite character. The scenes inside the school and in the cafeteria look authentic because real teenagers were used for the supporting cast and they weren’t all good looking models. The casting director keenly puts in a wide assortment of body types and faces just like you would see walking down the hallways of any high school.

The supporting cast is excellent and to some extent outshines Cusack who seems a bit aloof. I was especially impressed with Curtis Armstrong as Lane’s cocaine obsessed friend Charles who sports the perfect teen grunge look and was already in his 30’s when he played the part even though you would never have guessed it. It was a lot of fun seeing Kim Darby in a very atypical role as Lane’s ditzy mother Jenny. My image of her as the strong-willed Mattie Ross in the original True Grit is so thoroughly etched in my mind that it is hard to imagine her in any other type of role, but the change of pace here does her well.  Wyss and Diane Franklin, who plays Lane’s new girlfriend Monique, are both pleasing on the eyes.

Some of the humor is funny, but tends to become increasingly unfunny as the film progresses. Call me nitpicky, but a lot of the jokes do not hold-up under the scrutiny of even the most basic of logic. For instance Al gets out of bed early in the morning to open up his garage door to try and save the one remaining window on it that hasn’t been destroyed by the delivery boy who has a propensity to hurl newspapers through them, but wouldn’t a normal person have cancelled the subscription when this continued to happen, or sued the newspaper delivery service, or the boy’s parents? Also, it didn’t make sense for the newspaper boy to come after Lane for his money when the subscription was most assuredly under Al’s name and he was the one with a job. There is another segment involving Lane driving in a car and becoming so upset by the fact that every station on the radio is playing a break-up song that he tears it from the dashboard and throws it out the car window when simply turning it off would have been much easier. The running gag involving Jenny’s wacky new dinner recipes becomes stupid and exaggerated.

The climatic ski sequence is ruined by the fact that the viewer has already seen several characters ski down the same slope already, so by the time we get to the scene it becomes redundant. The songs used on the soundtrack are flat and it is easy to see why none of them charted.

I know when this film came out in 1985 I refused to go see it because I wasn’t going to watch any film directed by a man with the first name of Savage, which to me seemed like a name for someone who is a goofy self-promoter and not a serious filmmaker. Now, after having finally seen the film I can safely say that my initial feelings were correct. This is not a movie, but more a compilation of gags. The plot and characters are shallow to the extreme and the story goes nowhere and lacks any type of momentum, or pace.  As a teen comedy this thing ranks poorly because it is just an empty, vapid excuse for director Holland to show off his nifty animation skills and nothing more.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: October 11, 1985

Runtime: 1Hour 37Minutes

Director: Savage Steve Holland

Studio: Paramount

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray

The Honeymoon Killers (1969)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Kill the old ladies.

A lonely and overweight nurse by the name of Martha Beck (Shirley Stoler) meets and falls in love with the shady Raymond Fernandez (Tony Lo Bianco) through a ‘lonely hearts’ club. As their relationship progresses he confides in her his practice of marrying women and then robbing them of their savings. She decides to get in on the scheme by posing as his sister. Together they roam the countryside and murder and rob lonely old ladies in this darkly humored tale that is based on actual events.

It is impossible to watch this film and not have actress Shirley Stoler imprinted on your mind forever after. The scenes of her working at the hospital make her seem like the ‘real’ Nurse Ratched. Lo Bianco is also perfectly cast in his role as Fernandez when one reads the actual account of the case the face and voice of Lo Bianco’s almost immediately comes to mind even before you’ve seen the film. His slow revelation at finding out just how vicious and cold Martha really is and that she ends up shocking even him is memorable. The crime sequences themselves are more like humorous vignettes. The lady victims are all humorously flawed and portrayed with such a variety of annoyances that you end up finding yourself looking forward at seeing them ‘get it’. The music played over the killings that starts out low as the crime begins and then builds to a loud and intense crescendo is terrific and the black and white cinematography nicely compliments the stark subject matter.

I was disappointed that although this is a story that is based on actual events for whatever reason the film is set in the present day when the actual events took place in the 1940’s.This was possibly done for budgetary reasons, but it would have made it much more authentic had it been kept in its proper time period. It would also have helped the viewer gain a little more understanding to the Martha Beck character had it given us more of a background on her. In real life Beck had been abused by her father and was also the mother of two children and yet the film never even mentions any of this.

The film wonderfully explores the twisted and sometimes pathetic nature of people in both the perpetrators and in the victims. This becomes much more than a simple reenactment of a true crime story and more like a dark expose of our fragmented world and the fringe characters that dwell in it.

Martin Scorsese was the film’s original director, but was fired early on due to creative differences. Leonard Kastle took on the reins and does a fine job. I like his grainy, cinema verite vision and it was a shame that this proved to be his only directorial effort

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: September 8, 1969

Runtime: 1Hour 48Minutes

Rated R

Studio: American International Pictures

Director: Leonard Kastle

Available:  VHS, DVD (The Criterion Collection) 

The Offence (1972)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 8 out of 10

4-Word Review: Interrogate the child molestor.

Well respected, longtime police detective Johnson (Sean Connery) becomes so burned-out by all the sickening crimes that he has seen through his career that he snaps during the interrogation of a suspected child molester (Ian Bannen) and ends up beating the man to death.

Based on the stage play by John Hopkins this film has lots and lots of talking and some may say there is too much of it. The script is split into three drawn out conversations between two people. One is between Johnson and the suspect, the second is between Johnson and his wife (Vivien Merchant), and the third is between Johnson and the man brought in to investigate the incident, which is played by Trevor Howard. By the end even the most patient viewer may feel a bit talked out and it gets especially trying when you realize that the same issues are being discussed over and over again.

Yet that is not to say that this is a poor film as the visual element is excellent. In many ways you can appreciate the production for its visual style alone. Director Sidney Lumet displays a good handle on the material and it’s technically sharp on all levels. The lighting is well composed with the center that is bright, but the corners that are shadowy much like the human psyche and society. The overall grayness helps bring out the depression and isolation of the main character. The pacing is slow, but deliberate. Each scene builds to an intense crescendo. The music soundtrack resembles that of a one tone alarm that keeps building to a higher pitch much like the alarm ready to go off in Johnson’s head. The character’s inner tension is made even more vivid by Lumet’s use of interposing the bright light of the interrogation room over the screen. It is hard to imagine this film being any better crafted and it is a terrific training tool for the inspiring filmmaker.

Despite being talky the script in itself isn’t bad as it makes you aware of the ugly side of police work. It focuses not on the system or corruption, like a lot of other police films, but more on the actual work itself. It questions whether someone who is bombarded with the daily gore and societal sickness can remain sane and whether ‘leaving it all at the office’ is even possible. Every officer may eventually suffer scars from his job experience.

In a way this may be Connery’s best role. He shows his usual tough exterior, but also has moments where he unravels into a helpless, scared man. Bannen does an equally good job as the suspect. You are never really sure if he is guilty or not. The fact that he gives off a leering grin even after being beaten gives this film an added edge.

This is an oppressive and unrelenting movie filled with stark and unpleasant imagery that may stay with you long after it is over. Yet it is also expertly crafted and brings up some serious and important issues that are as timely today as they were back then.

My Rating: 8 out of 10

Released: January 11, 1972

Runtime: 1Hour 52Minutes

Rated R (Mature Theme)

Director: Sidney Lumet

Studio: MGM

Available: VHS, DVD (Region 1 and 2), Amazon Instant Video

Dead Calm (1989)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 8 out of 10

4-Word Review: Psycho on a boat.

Rae and John (Nicole Kidman, Sam Neill) are a young couple who in an attempt to get over the death of their child go on a cruise along the coral reef in their own private yacht. After many days at sea they come upon a boat with only one survivor. The man (Billy Zane) comes aboard their ship and almost immediately begins to behave strangely. Tensions slowly rise until it becomes obvious that this man is a full blown psychotic who has killed everyone on the first boat and plans to do the same to them.

In many ways this is a foundation to a perfect thriller. The two main characters are sensible and intelligent people who just happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Like with every thriller there are a few minor loopholes, but overall the situations are done in a believable fashion with no extreme jumps in logic. The script is tight and the suspense consistent. The action comes naturally through the scenarios and is not forced or played out too long. Having it take place at sea gives it a distinct flavor and the setting limitations makes the story more creative. It also hits on one of the main ingredients of fear which is isolation.

The only minor liability is the Zane character. At certain points he seems very human and a fascinating psychotic who is definitely no machine-like slasher. There are times when he is calm and complacent and his disturbed traits only surface sporadically thus giving him a much more multi-faceted personality. Unfortunately he is also careless and amazingly dumb, which hurts the tension because it seems to be telegraphing his own demise. Either way Zane is convincing in the role.

The Neill character makes a good counterpoint. He is savvy and no-nonsense. He takes action into his own hands and doesn’t fall into the helpless victim mode like in other thrillers. The Kidman character is another refreshing change of pace. She is not the standard ‘screaming lady in a bikini’, but instead shows equal resourcefulness.

The film does resort to the modern day slasher trend of having a ‘double’ ending. Yet everything else is so slickly handled that you can almost forgive it. For thriller fans this should be a real treat.

My Rating: 8 out of 10

Released: April 7, 1989

Runtime: 1Hour 36Minutes

Rated R

Director: Phillip Noyce

Studio: Warner Brothers

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video

Bullitt (1968)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 8 out of 10

4-Word Review: A great car chase.

    A police detective by the name of Bullitt (Steve McQueen) is hired to protect a state witness who is set to testify against the mob. Problems ensue when the witness is killed and Bullitt makes it his personal mission to find the killers even if it means bending the rules.

    A renegade cop going against the system may seem like an old formula now, but here it is fresh and convincing. McQueen is gritty and authentic in his role and you find yourself caught up in his mission. The mystery is intriguing and even a bit complex. The car chase is incredible and still holds up today against any other car chase out there. You are made to feel like you are in the car with him and as it goes down the steep San Francisco hills you start to think you are on a roller coaster. The camera work and cinematography is excellent and the entire production is slick from beginning to end.

    Robert Vaughan who plays Chalmers is one of the prissiest characters you will ever see and expounds a vocabulary that you won’t likely ever hear in real life. The character is incredibly pretentious and you look forward to his comeuppance, which he eventually receives although I wished it had been a little bit more.

     Jacqueline Bisset as Bullitt’s girlfriend Cathy is unnecessary and almost like an intrusion. Her little ‘speech’ that she gives along a roadway after witnessing a crime scene does nothing but bog the movie down. Supposedly she was put in to ‘humanize’ the Bullitt character and show his softer side, but he’s an outstanding character without it.

      As mentioned the slick camera work is very good, but it does start to resemble another great McQueen picture that came out around the same time The Thomas Crown Affair. The film also loses its momentum after the car chase and the climatic foot chase along an airport runway is not as exciting.

     This is still a terrific cop thriller that set the standard for all others. McQueen is always great and here he really delivers. The car chase alone is worth watching and shouldn’t be missed by any self- respecting action fan.

My Rating: 8 out of 10

Released: October 17, 1968

Runtime: 1Hour 54Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Peter Yates

Studio: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video

Jeremiah Johnson (1972)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Man in the wilderness.

            Jeremiah Johnson (Robert Redford) is a man who wishes to live life alone in the snowy mountains. His peaceful existence comes to an end when after riding through a sacred burial ground of the Crow Indian he becomes the target of young male warriors who attack him one-by-one when he is not expecting it to avenge his ‘desecration’. Jeremiah manages to defeat every warrior that challenges him turning him into a legend among the native tribes.

The film’s on-location shooting is outstanding and one of the chief assets in watching the movie. It was shot entirely in the state of Utah and there are many majestic long-shots where all you hear is the wind blowing and makes you feel like you are outdoors yourself alongside the character. The barren, empty winter landscape is well captured and while watching Jeremiah trudge all alone through the snow it was hard for me to imagine that there was actually a film crew present. The ambience of the natural surroundings is breathtaking and grabbed me immediately. I enjoyed the slow, quiet pace at the beginning and wished there had been more of it. One of the most enjoyable scenes is watching Jeremiah trying to catch fish with his hands out of a river, which could have been more entertaining had it been extended.

The story is loosely based on the real life exploits of fur trapper John Johnston who was known to cut out and eat the liver of every crow warrior that he defeated. There is nothing like that here and in some ways that is part of the problem. The ruggedness and reality seem to have been compromised by 70’s sensibilities with too many quirky scenarios and characters thrown in making the film’s structure reminiscent to Little Big Man, which was released just a few years earlier. That film seemed refreshingly cerebral, but here it becomes imitative and derivative.

Robert Redford is high in the looks department, but so-so in acting. He has always had too much of a detached presence and his range of emotions is limited. In some films this may work, but here the part needed more charisma and flair. The character was more like a modern day, touchy-feely male transplanted from Hollywood and into the wild than an actual 18th century hermit. For a man living off the land far from civilization he has to have the whitest most straightest teeth I have ever seen.

The supporting cast fares better. I loved Will Geer as the aging fur trapper Bear Claw. This guy has all the panache that Redford lacked and the movie would have been better had it made him the focus. Allyn Ann McLerie has a small, but riveting role as ‘the crazy woman’ who is unable to cope, or accept the fact that her family has been slaughtered by an Indian attack.  Stefan Gierasch has his finest hour as Del Gue a fur trapper that Jeremiah comes upon. During the first half you see him as bald only to have him return in the second half with a full head of hair. The scene where he is shown buried in sand up to his head is amusing and disconcerting at the same time.

My biggest issue with the film is when Jeremiah starts to fight off all the Indian warriors who attack him. I just could not believe that one man would be able to defeat and kill so many of them. I could understand maybe a few, but eventually odds would have to catch up with him. There is never any special skill shown for why Jeremiah seems to always get the upper hand during these battles. The fights themselves are not exciting as they are much too brief and edited in a way that it is hard to follow the action. It seems like it takes only a few seconds from when the Indian jumps him to when Jeremiah already has him on the ground dead. Jeremiah is also the only person I know of who can have a large spear pierce his body and all he does is pull it out and go on living without any noticeable injury.

The first half is more compelling than the second, which had me feeling bored. The side-story of having him take on an Indian bride as well as a young boy who does not speak has potential, but doesn’t go far enough with it. For an adventure story there is very little action outside of the Indian battles that to me seemed phony. The best sequence is a wolf attack that is nicely edited and graphic. The Crow Indian burial scene is effectively moody and starkly photographed.

The screenplay by John Milius and Edward Anhalt was written using material from two different novels and the lack of cohesion shows. Part of it wants to be a gritty nature drama while the other half plays like a mystical fantasy, but this uneasy mixture never gels, or works.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: December 21, 1972

Runtime: 1Hour 56Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Sydney Pollack

Studio: Warner Brothers

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video

The Odd Job (1978)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: Hired to kill him.

            Arthur Harris (Graham Chapman) comes home one day to celebrate his wedding anniversary only to find that his wife Fiona (Diana Quick) is leaving him. He becomes so despondent that he decides to kill himself. He has a lot of problems doing it, but then he receives a knock on his door by a man (David Jason) looking for some ‘odd jobs’. Arthur decides to hire him to be his killer, but when his wife decides to come back Arthur is thrown into a state of panic trying to avoid being killed.

Normally I love British comedies and this one seemed to have all the ingredients to being a hilarious one, but it never gels. The opening bit where the couple is arguing and Arthur insists that they are ‘happily married’ even if she doesn’t think so is full of great English wit, but everything after that falls into a lull. The jokes become long and elaborate where so much time is spent building the set-up that getting to the punch-line becomes trying. The restaurant scene is particularly drawn-out and unfunny. The ‘zany’ chase sequence in the zoo is derivative and flat.

Quick was not a good casting choice as the spouse. She is too young and beautiful a wife for such a nebbish man. A good comic character actress who was more frumpy and dowdy would have been a better fit. Quick doesn’t show any comic ability, or timing as her affected responses and facial expressions become annoying and tiring. There is also no motivation for why the character decides to come back to her husband and although this is absurd comedy there still needed to be one otherwise the writing comes off as forced and sloppy, which it is.

Chapman doesn’t completely work in his role either.  It seemed strange that he would want to kill himself when a super-hot lady neighbor is more than willing to go to bed with him and even strips off your clothes and hops into the sack before he goes running off in fright. There is also the issue that killing oneself because your wife as left you seems extreme. Most men would probably celebrate if this happened to them and it is hard to relate to a protagonist that seems so pathetic. A stronger motivation, like having him killed in a staged murder, so his family could collect on some life insurance money would have been more effective. There is another part where the police become aware that someone is trying to kill him and for some reason Arthur does not tell them of the bizarre scenario when they ask him about it even though to me it made more sense to let them try to apprehend the man instead of continuing to live in fear of being killed.

The music, which is soft and melodic, was a terrible choice as it does not fit the quirky theme, nor complement the fast-paced comic scenarios. The tacked on ‘surprise ending’ is horrible and pretty much cements the film as a misfire. During his Monty Python days Chapman was famous for walking onto the screen and telling the audience that the sketch they were doing had become too absurd and would now end and I wish he had done that here.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: September 3, 1978

Runtime: 1Hour 27Minutes

Rated PG (Brief Nudity)

Director: Peter Medak

Studio: Columbia-EMI-Warner

Available: VHS

The Accidental Tourist (1988)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Introverts need love too.

            Macon Leary (William Hurt) is an introvert who writes travel books for a living despite the fact that he dislikes traveling. His marriage to Sarah (Kathleen Turner) ends after the untimely death of their son. His wife used to babysit his dog Edward while he was away, but now he decides to drop him off at the local animal shelter that is run by Muriel Pritchet (Geena Davis). She is colorful and talkative and his complete opposite and eventually a romance begins to blossom.

The film, based on the novel by Anne Tyler, takes its time in telling its story.  In some ways the leisurely pace is refreshing. Trying to get an introvert to be more extraverted is never easy and the way Macon is initially reticent towards Muriel’s advances was realistic. Yet it does drag at certain parts and seems to go on too long. The second hour, in which Sarah comes back in the picture and Macon is forced to choose between the two, is much more interesting and compelling. The side-story where Macon’s publisher Julian (Bill Pullman) romances Macon’s sister Rose (Amy Wright) was unnecessary and does nothing but make a slow movie even longer. I also didn’t find the eccentricities of Macon’s family to be all that amusing as they were exaggerated and portrayed introverts as being freaks instead of people who simply function better independently instead of within groups.

The Muriel character is a bit over-blown as well. She comes on too aggressively towards Macon before she even knows him. There is nothing shown for why she found this man immediately attractive especially when he constantly responds to her in a cold and distant way. Later on we learn that she is poor and possibly found Macon to be well-off financially and a good stable father for her son, but even so her behavior seems a bit too forward and bordering on being shameless. Her outfits are over-the-top. I realize they are supposed to accentuate her kooky personality, but they come off as gaudy and garish and like they are being worn by someone who has no sense of style or taste.  The part where she quietly hugs Macon when he explains to her about the death of his son is moving and the first moment when I began to like the character. However, director Lawrence Kasdan ruins it by then having her strip of his clothes and climb into bed with him, which took things too far. In film sometimes the strongest statements can be made with the simplest of images and it seemed like here they had it and then lost it.

Turner is okay as the ex-wife, but I initially felt the character was unnecessary. I didn’t like it at the beginning when they are breaking-up and she goes into great detail about his character faults sounding almost like she was analyzing him for a psychological assessment. It seemed to me like she was being used to help ‘explain’ his character to the viewer when in a good film the viewer should be able to come to these deductions themselves without the help of an on-screen ‘tutorial’. Later on as she fights to get Macon back the character becomes stronger and better fleshed-out. I even ended up feeling sorry for her as her own insecurities and jealousies do her in.

Hurt is solid in the lead playing an atypical role. I wanted more of an explanation about the death of their son. It takes quite a while before it gets explained and then we are told that it was during some botched robbery at a burger joint, but it was still unclear to me why he was there and not the parents, or how it all played out. Having a flashback with a news report involving the incident would have helped. The film has many other flashbacks, some of them quite good, so another in this area would have been nice.

The music score is pleasing, but too reminiscent of ones used in other films from that era. It also has a bit too much of a whimsical quality that is not fitting for a drama such as this. The Muriel’s eight year old son is cute, but a bit too cute. I found the scenes where Macon bonds with the kid to be touching, but when films seemed compelled to only show children spewing out cutesy, innocuous comments I find it a bit annoying.

Overall this is a quality production made probably more for the female viewer looking for an intelligent, sensitive romance.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: December 23, 1988

Runtime: 2Hours 1Minute

Rated PG

Studio: Warner Brothers

Director: Lawrence Kasdan

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video, Netflix Streaming

The Sweet Ride (1968)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Bachelor pad on beach.

This is an obscure and ponderous film dealing with three bachelors(Anthony Franciosa, Michael Sarrazin, Bob Denver) who live in beach house and one day come upon a beautiful woman named Vickie Cartwright (Jacqueline Bisset) swimming in the ocean. They all make a play for her yet it is Denny (Sarrazin) who she falls for. Eventually though her erratic behavior and secret past become too much for him.

The theme is similar to that of Petulia, which came out around the same time. That film proved more successful because of its intricate, stylish narrative and deeper intellectual understanding. Technically this is well directed, but the color is washed out and there seems to be an ugly brownish tone permeating every shot. Some of the sets look cheesy especially the ones used for the indoor bar scenes. The story is too pedestrian and stretched too thin. It starts with some nice interplay between the three men, but that quickly evaporates and by the second hour it has become really boring. There’s some action at the end, but it’s standard and pointless. The resolution itself is too convenient and the relationship between Denny and Vickie is unexciting.

The story does offer some potentially intriguing undertones, but the film never pursues them. The girl herself is an interesting element. We come to realize through the course of the story that she lives a very, very sad existence. The film could have been meatier had it a given us a wider scope of her life and not just the little tidbits that it does. It also could have shown us more of a background to her character and examined how she came to being the way that she was.

The film’s chief asset is the bachelor pad itself, which is a dream for the single male. It’s well designed and sits right on Malibu beach with a terrific view of the ocean. There is beer and liquor everywhere as well as beautiful women coming in and out. The constant sound of the crashing waves in the background give off a soothing effect and the setting allows this film more points than it might otherwise deserve.

Some credit must also go to Franciosa an actor that never really attained much stature. His role here may actually be his finest moment. He plays the eldest of the three men and is as tan, muscular, and good looking as any forty year old can get. He’s as flippant a character as you’ll ever see and adds zest to each scene that he is in. Some of his sardonic comments about his bachelorhood add insight as to why some people are single and want to stay that way.

Dusty Springfield belts out the opening song and really gives it her all.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: June 12, 1968

Runtime: 1Hour 50Minutes

Rated NR (Not Rated)

Director: Harvey Hart

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Availability: None