Monthly Archives: May 2013

Candy Stripe Nurses (1974)

candy stripe nurses

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: They specialize in sex.

The fifth edition of Roger Corman’s Nurses series has gone well past its expiration date and mercifully this was the final one. A creative animated opening and a funky, edgy soundtrack fail to camouflage the tired formula. Uneven balance of farcical humor and stilted drama doesn’t work and they should’ve just stuck with the comedy. The scenarios themselves are extremely trite and not worth describing.

Initially I liked the Maria Rojo character who is this punk, streetwise gal who is ambivalent to her school work and gets thrown in as a volunteer candy stripe nurse simply to give her some responsibility, but she remains apathetic to that as well. The story though shifts to her falling almost immediately in-love with one of the male patients (Roger Cruz) and then spending an excessive amount of screen-time going way out of her way to find a witness that can testify on his behalf to keep him out of jail. This segment flops mainly because I couldn’t buy into the fact that she would be so convinced of his innocence when she had just met him. Also, for a streetwise girl she ends up being too trusting and naïve. Her acting also gets worse the more the film progresses.

Candice Rialson comes off best. I’ve seen her in other drive-in films, but she seems to be having the most fun in this one particularly the scene where she works in a sex clinic and answers the phone from perverted callers. She also possesses (ahem) a really nice rack, which gets amply shown.

The sex is a little more erotic and impulsive here. The segment showing a breast in close-up amidst some shadowy lighting has some artistic flair and a nude scene involving now famous soap opera actress Robin Mattson is good. However, for the most part the sex and nudity is pretty sparse.

Famous television writer Stanley Ralph Ross hams it up as Dr. Kramer the head of the sex clinic. Dick Miller can also be seen briefly as a spectator at a basketball game. He has been in so many low budget films and many times in small and insignificant roles that it makes me wonder; is he desperate for money or just willing to do anything for it?

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: May 1, 1974

Runtime: 1Hour 17Minutes

Rated R

Director: Allan Holeb

Studio: New World Pictures

Available: DVD (The Nurses Collection)

The Lonely Guy (1984)

the lonely guy

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: He needs a girlfriend.

This film almost seems like an extension of Steve Martin’s character in The Jerk and could probably be retitled ‘The Jerk Goes to the Big Apple’. Here we find the same incredibly vapid, highly benign character looking for love and adjusting to the pitfalls of being single.

Like with The Jerk the film taps into the same absurd type of humor some of which is quite funny, but other parts become stretched and even stupid. The best stuff comes at the beginning and then starts to get strained by the end. There is no real story and the whole thing is just loosely structured hit-or-miss comical bits casually tied around the theme of loneliness.

Based on the novel by Bruce Jay Friedman the script was written by Neil Simon, Ed Weinberger and Stan Daniels three titans of comedy who have written some smart stuff in the past and yet I found their script here to be a bit annoying. It takes on the serious issue of social alienation with kid gloves. The points that it makes are superficial with no effort to dig deeper or make any type of real statement. The single male characters are too hopeless and needy and too much emphasis is placed on relationships and the misconception that people who are in them are always happier than those who are not. It also acts like being in relationships will somehow solve everything.

Judith Ivey makes a nice addition as Martin’s eventual girlfriend. She is not glamorously beautiful and therefore the two make a nice and realistic looking pairing. Her scenes and interactions with Martin make the film much stronger.

Unfortunately with Charles Grodin, who is dynamic at dry deadpan humor, is not used to his full potential. Merv Griffin has an unfunny cameo and the recently departed Joyce Brothers also appears with her nerdette persona that was beginning to wear thin.  Singer Steve Lawrence is completely miscast as a ‘chick-magnet’.

The bit involving lonely men jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge every two minutes borders on being tasteless and the running gag involving Ivey having an orgasm every time a man sneezes is just plain dumb. However, the part where Martin argues with a policeman over whether the poop on the sidewalk is from his dog is a gem. There is also a hilarious bit involving Groodin throwing a party with cardboard cutouts of famous movie stars as his ‘guests’ although don’t look for one of Gene Hackman because his have to be reserved one-week in advance!

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: January 27, 1984

Runtime: 1Hour 30Minutes

Rated R

Director: Arthur Hiller

Studio: Universal

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video

The Power (1968)

the power 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Who has the power?

Professor Jim Tanner (George Hamilton) is the head of a scientific research group who come to realize that one of their members has strong telekinetic powers and is slowly killing off the other members one-by-one by fantastic and bizarre means. It is up to Jim and his assistant Margery (Suzanne Pleshette) to find out who it is and try to put a stop to it before they become his next victim.

There are definite shades to Agatha Christie’s classic mystery novel ‘And Then There Were None’ and in fact that title even gets mentioned here. Despite a pace that ebbs and flows Director Byron Haskin gives the proceedings a flashy and creative flair. Watching Jim getting attacked by toy soldiers in a display window is cool as is the part where he gets stranded in the middle of a desert. The ending features visuals of faces melting and skeletons dancing that reminded me a bit of the one in Raiders of the Lost Ark. I also enjoyed the scene showing an actual heart inside a man’s body getting squeezed and forcing it to stop.

The supporting cast is fabulous and almost of half of the film’s entertainment alone. Yvonne De Carlo is terrific in a brief, but fun bit as the tipsy wife of one of the victim’s. Gary Merrill is solid as a hard-bitten police detective and Aldo Ray is good as a menacing bad guy. Michael Rennie better known for his starring role in another sci-fi classic The Day the Earth Stood Still is effective here as the mysterious Arthur Nordlund, but my favorite of them all would have to Arthur O’Connell as the nervous and high-strung Henry Hallson. The look on his face after he is spun around at high speeds in a space compressor is probably the film’s best moment.

Where the film fails is that this mysterious person’s powers are much too broad with no limitations of any kind. I can handle the idea of telekinesis, but this guy can also make walls of buildings grow and make doorways disappear. He can even change the words on street lights to go from ‘Don’t Walk’ to ‘Don’t Run’. To me this made it seem too fabricated and far-fetched. Even in sci-fi there needs to be same perimeters and basis of logic of some kind and this film offers none. The fact that there is never any explanation given for how this person got these amazing powers, or what might have caused it makes it even weaker and hurts what is otherwise an interesting idea.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: February 21, 1968

Runtime: 1Hour 48Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Byron Haskin

Studio: MGM

Available: DVD (Warner Archive)

The Young Nurses (1973)

the young nurses

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: More sex than medicine.

More amorous nurses, more stilted dialogue, more bad acting and more cheap production values in this the fourth edition of the Roger Corman produced series.

The formula is starting to become old and outside of some scenic ocean beach scenery and a bouncy opening tune there is very little to recommend. The story of one of the nurses (Jeane Manson) falling in love with a handsome young hunk and nursing him back to health only to have him go out and recklessly put his life on the line again is too reminiscent of story threads used in past editions of this series. This time it has to do with sailboating and the man’s broken shoulder not yet healed enough to go back out, but because of pressures from his father he decides to get into a sailboating race, which is picturesque to watch, but offers little else.

The second story line involving a drug ring working inside the hospital is equally contrived, but does at least involve one exciting chase sequence.

There is of course the expected nudity with this one having a bit more than the ones in the past. Unlike the first three this one shows full frontal nudity particularly with Manson who goes dancing along the beach naked and even into the ocean. The segment involving one of them hallucinating about a sex orgy at a black nightclub is somewhat provocative as is the vaginal self-examination booth.

However, unlike the past films of the series not all of the three leads are seen sans clothes. Although she comes close Angela Gibbs is never seen nude, but at least makes up for it by giving the best acting performance. Ashley Porter is seen nude and looks good, but her acting is terrible and possibly the worst performance of the entire series. She says her lines in a robotic fashion that quickly becomes irritating.

The film does offer some fun cameos by famous B-movie actors. Allan Arbus is amusing as a sarcastic doctor yelling at a nurse for handing him incorrect utensils during surgery. Jay Burton hams it up as an overzealous manager to a rock group. Mantan Moreland can be seen as an old man who is almost run over by a motorcycle. Dick Miller plays an abrasive cop and Samuel Fuller is the head of the drug ring. Sally Kirkland is one of the patients, Nan Martin plays a woman reporter and Mary Doyle, sister of actor David Doyle, is engaging as a bitchy older head nurse.

The picture quality is excellent and the ocean side views are scenic. Unlike with the transfers of the first two features this one, which is all part of the Nurses Collection by Shout Factory, does not have any annoying sound distortion.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: March 10, 1973

Runtime: 1Hour 17Minutes

Rated R

Director: Clinton Kimbrough

Studio: New World Pictures

Available: DVD (The Nurses Collection)

Antonia and Jane (1991)

antonia and jane 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Friends aren’t always friends.

Jane (Imelda Staunton) is a depressed single woman slipping into middle-age and jealous of her lifelong friend Antonia (Saskia Reeves) who she feels is prettier and gets all the breaks. Jane pours her thoughts out to her therapist (Brenda Bruce), but the twist is that Antonia sees the same therapist and is having the same problems only in reverse as she is jealous of Jane. The first half-hour looks at things from Jane’s point-of-view while the second half shows it from Antonia’s.

The element that really makes this movie so enjoyable is the cutaways. Everything talked about during their sessions is recreated visually. These recreations are all quite funny. Some of my favorites are when Jane talks about a trip to Canada and we see her pushing over a tall pine tree with one hand. There is also the segment where Antonia’s 10-year-old son gives a raunchy stand-up comedy routine to his friends during his birthday party. The part where the two find themselves trapped in an old French war movie complete with them speaking fluid French and subtitles is quite creative as is the many different and colorful outfits that the two wear each year when they get together for their annual visit with the other.

Somehow friendships between females are quite different than the ones of their male counterparts. Harbored jealousies and insecurities seem to always lurk beneath the surface no matter how ‘happy’ their facades and this film explores them with biting and accurate detail as well as showing how skewed people’s perspectives can sometimes be. I also found myself digging the name Antonia and wondered why we don’t hear more women named that so…

Memo to all young couples and parents to be: Let’s get a few more  Antonias out there and a few less Ashleys. Thank You.

The Howard character played by Bill Nighy is also quite amusing. Jane meets him at an art exhibit where he displays big blown-up black and white photographs of twenty-four different naked rear-ends. The two go down the line and analyze each and every one, which in a strange way I thought was kind of interesting. I also got a kick out of the way he asks Jane out on a date.

Howard: Are you involved in a long-term monogamous mutually self-absorbed sexual relationship?

Jane: No.

Howard: Me neither.

In an effort to keep the quirkiness going the two women characters sometime do strange things that at times makes them hard to relate to and is the film’s only real weakness. For instance Antonia tells Jane that she is having an affair with Jane’s husband and Jane becomes very supportive of it and attends their wedding even though most people would probably want to kill their friend if they told them that and the unfaithful husband to boot. There is another scene where Antonia meets a stranger at a theater and goes back to his place for sex and even allows herself to get tied up during some kinky bondage games, which most viewers will consider being too reckless and putting oneself into too vulnerable a position with someone they don’t even know.

Usually films that seemed obsessed with tying everything together get overdone and annoying, but here the ironies are hilarious and become funnier as it goes along. Strangely it is the very end where the film loses it flamboyance and instead gives us a nice, simple scene of genuine human affection that leaves the strongest impact in this very offbeat and entertaining gem.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: November 2, 1991

Runtime: 1Hour 15Minutes

Rated R

Director: Beeban Kidron

Studio: Miramax

Available: VHS

Thief of Hearts (1984)

thief of hearts

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: He knows her secrets.

Scott, who is played by actor Steven Bauer looking more like a heartthrob than a common criminal, robs the house of an affluent couple. He takes the diaries of the wife Mickey (Barbara Williams) and begins to read them. He starts to obsess over her and decides to try to woo her by using the knowledge of her ‘secret fantasies’ that he has learned.

Overall this is a draggy, one-dimensional film that is too programmed to the female viewer and eventually becomes like a soap opera. Exploring one’s fantasy world could have been interesting, but this thing barely touches the surface especially since her ‘fantasies’ are so ordinary and predictable that they hardly seem like a secret at all.

The characters are standard and unappealing. There is Janie (Christine Ebersole) the nosy co-worker who always seems ‘horny’. There is also the self- absorbed husband Ray (John Getz) who is such a doofus you wonder how they ever got married in the first place. Mickey our heroine is supposed to be the sensitive and conscientious one. Her perpetually worried and uncomfortable expression is intended to signify this. Yet she surrenders to Scott and his very obvious courting with little or no resistance. She makes her marriage look like it was meaningless and her morals quite dubious. Most viewers probably won’t sympathize with her especially since her marriage really wasn’t that bad and was simply suffering from the typical growing pains.

The sex scenes are a bore and not even worth five cents at a peep show. The music is bland and the songs (by Melissa Manchester) forgettable. The resolution- like ending is too protracted. The film is also humorless, but does have one unintentionally funny scene involving Mickey’s very hooky redecorating of Scott’s otherwise cool looking pad that supposedly makes it look better, but really doesn’t.

The only good thing about this film is David Caruso. He looks different and much younger here. He plays his sleazy rat-like character to the hilt and gives this dud a real boost of energy and should be mandatory viewing for any Caruso fan.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: October 19, 1984

Runtime: 1Hour 40Minutes

Rated R

Director: Douglas Day Stewart

Studio: Paramount

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video

All Fall Down (1962)

all fall down

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Don’t idolize older brother.

Berry-Berry (Warren Beatty) is the malcontent son of Annabell and Ralph Willart (Angela Lansbury, Karl Malden) who is unable to hold down a steady job, is in constant brushes with the law, and beats up his girlfriends. Yet women seem attracted to his rugged good looks, his parents continue to dote on him and overlook his flaws and his younger brother Clinton (Brandon De Wilde) idolizes him. All that changes when Echo (Eva Marie Saint) comes to visit. Clinton falls for her, but when she meets Berry-Berry she instead goes for him. When he mistreats her Clinton finally sees his brother for who he is and decides to take matters into his own hands.

Although overall this is a great production one of the biggest problems I had with it is the name for the leading character. Who names their kid Berry-Berry? I have never heard of that name before and it sounds corny and silly even annoying every time it comes out of one of the character’s mouths. I was almost surprised that the actors didn’t crack-up every time they had to say it. I felt there should have been an explanation for it, but none ever comes. In my mind giving a kid that stupid name is probably the whole reason he became so troubled and difficult in his adult life.

As for the character itself I wanted more of a history to see why he became the way he did. There is no backstory and in that regard the film seems weak and even frustrating. Despite being billed as the star Beatty is not really seen all that much especially during the first hour and in some ways the film comes off more like an ensemble drama. Also, having women fall for him after literally just setting their eyes on him seemed exaggerated and overdone.

Beatty has all the necessary leading man qualities, but in this instance I don’t think he was right for the part. His performance is too reserved and aloof. I didn’t see him conveying the deep seated anger that the part demanded. In many ways it is De Wilde who gives a far stronger performance and steals the film. His boyish face and charm makes for a fantastic contrast to Beatty’s.

Lansbury is sensational. She was only in her thirties at the time, but plays a woman in her fifties and does so convincingly as well as putting on a good accent. Two of her best moments come when her husband brings home three homeless men for the holidays and she insists they only want money and not the comfort of human companionship that her husband believes and the way she proves it is amusing. The part near the end where she defends her eldest son despite all his ugly flaws is brief, but strong and one of the film’s defining moments.

Saint is also excellent in support and so is Madame Spivy. She was a bar owner in real life and plays one here. She had a masculine build and a very no-nonsense demeanor, which comes out when she throws the under aged Clinton out of her establishment.

Director John Frankenheimer does well with the material. The on-locations shooting done in Key West, Florida is striking particularly at the beginning. His use of a rain storm makes a particularly strong dramatic sequence even stronger. However, the screenplay was written by William Inge and based on a novel by James Leo Herlihy. Inge was a noted playwright and the script seems more suited for the stage as it is quite talky and lacking in cinematic elements.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: March 28, 1962

Runtime: 1Hour 51Minutes

Not Rated

Director: John Frankenheimer

Studio: MGM

Available: DVD (Warner Archive), Amazon Instant Video

Night Call Nurses (1972)

night call nurses 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: Sex makes good medicine.

Barbara (Patty Byrne), Janis (Alana Stewart), and Sandra (Mittie Lawrence) are three young women starting out in the nursing field. The film analyzes their various and sometimes amusing predicaments while on the job as well as their sex lives.

The film moves at a decent pace, but seems disjointed with poor story and character progression. Things are thrown in just to keep it moving, but with no real connection to anything else. Amateurish production values permeate and Jonathan Kaplan’s directorial debut is for the most part best forgotten. The only mildly interesting scene involved a therapy group where all the members strip off their clothes as well as having one of the members think that she is being driven insane by the group’s instructor.

The attempts at lightheartedness and humor are strained and flat. Only one brief exchange during the entire duration managed to elicit a small chuckle from myself and it goes like this:

Male Patient: (While looking at the nurse’s nametag on her uniform) Is Janis your name, or the name of your left titty?

Janis: (While giggling) Janis is my name. Irene is the name of my left tiitty.

The acting is quite poor with everyone phoning in their parts. Alana Stewart who was at one time the wife of actor George Hamilton and later rock legend Rod Stewart as well as the mother of Ashley Hamilton and Kimberly Stewart mouths her lines in a lifeless and emotionless fashion that resembles her beautiful but blank blue eyes. However, recent pics of her are amazing as she looks like she hasn’t aged a day since she has done this and I’ll give her credit there. Despite only doing one other picture besides this one Byrne is the one that gives the strongest performance particularly her effective crying, which seems real.

There is enough nudity to satisfy the voyeurs including the opening sequence where one of the mentally-ill patients’ strips off her clothes and then jumps off the roof of a building. However, you basically only see their breasts and the sex is handled in such a mechanical and unimaginative way that it fails to titillate at all.

The Shout Factory DVD issue has a great picture quality much like Private Duty Nurses, but the sound is a problem. There is a background rumbling heard throughout that resembles talking to someone on the phone with wind blowing through the receiver, or speaking to someone in the car with the windows down and wind blowing in.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: June 10, 1972

Runtime: 1Hour 14Minutes

Rated R

Director: Jonathan Kaplan

Studio: New World Pictures

Available: DVD (Roger Corman’s Nurses Collection) 

Heathers (1988)


By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: These girls are bitches.

Heathers (Kim Walker, Shannon Doherty, Lisanne Falk) are three beautiful teens all with the same first name of Heather who act as the bitch queens of their Ohio high school. Veronica (Wynona Ryder) strives to be accepted into their exclusive clique and eventually does, but feels guilty about having to ignore her old friends as well as not particularly liking her new ‘friends’. In comes J.D. (Christian Slater) a rebel who decides to shake up the status system by killing off all of the snotty girls and jocks and making it look like suicides. Veronica reluctantly goes along with it, but when J.D. decides to blow up the entire school in order to make ‘a statement’ she decides things have gone too far.

Daniel Water’s dark script is incisively on-target and filled with original quotable lines of dialogue. Director Michael Lehmann gives the proceedings a nicely surreal touch with just a pinch of satire with the funeral scenes of the victims being the funniest and most creative. The characters are pretty much portrayed on the negative side, but the caricatures have a lot of truth to them and it reminded me a lot of my high school days.

What really makes this stand out from other 80’s high school movies is the fact that it transcends the teen culture by showing how the adult world really isn’t much better and this high school is simply a microcosm of a cold, screwed-up world that it inhabits. In fact Veronica’s mother (Jennifer Rhodes) says it best when she states: “When teenagers complain that they want to be treated more like adults it is usually because they are being treated like one.”

Ryder is superb and I still consider this to be the best role of her career. The fact that the character is morally dubious, but still manages to stay likable makes it all the more fascinating. Christian Slater’s Jack Nicholson impersonation is irritating, but he is still a good pick for the part. The two share some particularly good exchanges including this one:

Veronica: “I just killed my best friend.”

J.D.: “And your worst enemy.”

Veronica: “Same difference.”

I must admit that I fell completely in-love with Kim Walker as Heather #1 as she possesses an amazingly beautiful face, which would be enough to make me want to watch her regardless of acting skills. I’m surprised that her career never took off and she was relegated to supporting roles in minor productions.

kim walker 1

However, she does get two great lines including:

“Fuck me gently with a chainsaw.”

And her most famous one:

“Did you have a brain tumor for breakfast?”

Unfortunately she gets killed off much too quickly when she is tricked into drinking some drain cleaner supplied to her by J.D., but she still looks  beautiful even with blue teeth and a blue tongue. What is even sadder and more perplexing is that in real-life she died at the young age of 32 by believe-it-or-not a brain tumor.

kim walker 2

Falk as Heather #2 is attractive as well although not quite like Walker. Her career never skyrocketed either and her biggest claim to fame outside of this is that she was the model on the cover of Foreigner’s Head Games album. Doherty as the third Heather may be the most famous of the three, but she is not as attractive. For the first half she didn’t even seem all that effectual but comes into her bitchy best during the second part.

Despite the fact that the teens were not using cell phones, or texting, or had any of the other technological advances of today the film doesn’t seem dated, which is another plus. Only two scenes really stood out to me in this area. One is when J.D. shoots at a couple of mean jocks (who are characterized in amusingly dim-witted style) with a gun full of blanks and he doesn’t get into any trouble for it. Off course in 1988 school shootings were unheard of, but today the place would be put on lockdown and J.D. would not only be suspended but probably serve some jail time blanks or not. Another scene involves Veronica and J.D. planning to ‘humiliate’ these same jocks by making it look like they are gay lovers, which today would get Veronica and J.D. labeled as being homophobic.

Although I enjoyed the scene where J.D. gives Veronica the finger only to have it shot off I did find the second half not to be as slick and the concept itself seems to get stretched too thin. The script’s original ending called for a prom to take place in heaven and featuring the teens in different cliques than the ones they were in on earth, but unfortunately the suits at the studio in typically stupid fashion nixed that idea and went with a rather dopey and contrived one instead.

There is also ample argument to the fact that most investigators probably wouldn’t be fooled by these staged suicides and instead consider them the homicides that they were, but because it was all done in the satirical vein I’m willing to overlook it in what is otherwise one of the best high school movies ever made and one that enjoys a considerable cult following. There are also apparently rumors of turning the film into a TV-series where a grown Veronica returns to her hometown with her teen daughter who must now contend with a new generation of teen bitch queens named Ashley.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: October 1, 1988

Runtime: 1Hour 43Minutes

Rated R

Director: Michael Lehmann

Studio: New World Pictures

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

Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969)

bob and ted and carol and alice 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: 60’s style mate swapping.

Bob and Carol Saunders (Robert Culp, Natalie Wood) attend a group therapy session at a remote cabin location. There they encounter other couples who learn to become open with their feelings and sexuality. When they return home they find that their friends Ted and Alice (Elliot Gould, Dyan Cannon) are too repressed and need to open up more with their true selves. At first the other couple is reluctant, but after spending more time with Bob and Carol and adjusting to their new way of thinking, which includes allowing their spouse to have sex with other partners they slowly come around and eventually all four have sex together.

Paul Mazursky makes a splendid directorial debut. During the late sixties most filmmakers were trying to reflect the times by making movies that featured quick edits, zany plots, and surreal elements, but Mazursky slows it all down keeping the humor on a subtle level and making great use of silence. The envelope pushing subject matter is handled in refreshingly non-judgmental way. Some films from the era would take on some of the more racy topics of the day, but still feel the need to put in a ‘moral center’, but fortunately here that is not the case. Mazursky shows a respect for his adult audience by keeping the entire thing on an uncompromised sophisticated level. When I first saw the film over 20 years ago I felt it was too talky, but upon second viewing that opinion has mellowed and I now find the long takes gives it a nice improvisational feel.

One of the best moments of the film is the very beginning where we see an aerial shot of the remote cabin where the group encounter takes place as well as the open nudity by the participants and Bob and Carol driving up through the scenic locale on a curving road. Quincy Jones’s booming orchestral score adds to the already striking ambience. The scenes from the encounter group is handled almost in a documentary style analyzing not so much what it talked about, but instead on the different emotional reactions that the members have throughout it. The scene where Bob admits to Carol that he had an affair and instead of being angered by it she accepts it, which turns them on enough that they end up making love on their bathroom floor is funny as is the opposite reaction that Ted and Alice have when Carol tells them the ‘good news’.  I also found Alice’s therapy session to be fascinating namely because it seemed quite authentic and was done by an actual licensed psychiatrist (Donald F. Muhich) who at the time was Mazursky real life therapist.

Wood gives a strong and amazing performance in one of her best and unfairly neglected roles. Having seen interviews that she gave I was aware that she was raised in a sheltered environment, so it is interesting seeing her in a part of a liberated woman embracing the new modern morality. The wild look in her eyes sizzles from the screen and she looks awesome in a bikini a well.

Cannon is good as Wood’s polar opposite a woman who is reluctant to let go of the values of her more repressed era and yet still curious about trying. Having the character evolve as the film progresses makes it  interesting.

The two male leads are okay, but the underpants that Gould wears during the final scene where they undress are overly big to the point of almost looking like adult diapers.

The only real complaint that I have with the film is that the famous scene where the four characters all go to bed together doesn’t happen until the very end, which could prove frustrating to some viewers since that scene is the film’s most famous and one that was used for its promotion. I had no problem with the film showing the various events that led up to it happening as it was essential and intelligently done, but it does not show what happens to the characters after they do it. I felt a better structure for the film would have been to have the scene where they go to bed together happen right away at the beginning and then spend the rest of the film cutting back and forth showing what lead up to it as well as scenes showing how the characters went on with their lives and how they dealt with each other afterwards.

This is a great film because it shows the 60’s experience from a middle-aged person’s perspective and the confusion that it created. People observing the new free love generation from the outside looking  in still straddled with the more repressive values of the past and unsure about how or even if they should jump in.

bob and ted and carol and alice

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: September 17, 1969

Runtime: 1Hour 45Minutes

Rated M (Later changed to R)

Director: Paul Mazursky

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video