By Richard Winters
My Rating: 6 out of 10
4-Word Review: Married to your opposite
This film is based on the short story ‘The Illusionless Man & the Visionary Maid’ by Allen Wheelis and centers around Henry (Tom Rosqui) a hard-bitten realist with no illusions to anything. He lives a rather solitude life working as a termite exterminator. Then one day while walking in a park he bumps into Lorabella (Ina Mela) who is his complete opposite. She is full of ideals, dreams, and fantasies. Despite an awkward courtship the two get married and the film deals with the rocky, winding road that it takes.
This was the directorial debut for John Korty who later went on to direct the critically acclaimed TV-movies ‘Go Ask Alice’ and ‘The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman’. His talents are on full display here as he institutes a visual design to a story that initially doesn’t have any. I loved some of the picturesque moments particularly when Henry and Lorabella take a long quiet walk in a wide open field that eventually stretches all the way into a forest. The black and white cinematography gives it just the right cinema vertite feel and the music is perfect especially the flute solo. In an age of overblown plots and mind numbing special effects it is nice to see someone take a risk with a story that is subtle, basic, and restrained. There is some nice simple, but profound moments here that could never be replicated in the big budget productions, but have a great impact here. Despite the whimsical nature many people are sure to see a bit of themselves in the characters and it is its ability to tap into that very basic, universal truth that makes this film special and unique.
The casting is astute. Rosqui is spot-on as the realist. He has a perpetual scowl on his face that is just right for the character and seems to remain even in the brief moments when he is smiling. Mela is equally good. Her expressive eyes, delicate features, and wispy voice perfectly reflect the traits of her character and the camera captures her well. She never appeared in another movie and I was sad to hear that she died at a young age.
Initially I was put-off by the Lorabella character falling so madly in-love with Henry after she bumps into him and following him all around even though he responds to her in a very cold and reticent way. I felt it was unrealistic that someone wouldn’t notice the obvious aloofness, but then I realized that is the characters whole problem. She projects traits onto the people she meets as well as everything else in life from her own quirky mind that aren’t really there. This comes to an amusing head when she has affairs with various different men where she shows the same tendency and ends up consistently getting the same empty result. These vignettes are the funniest moments in the film as well as the scene where she bakes Henry a chocolate cake that is shaped to look like a giant termite.
I really have only a few complaints with the film. One is the voice-over narration by Burgess Meredith. Meredith has a great voice and a few of his lines are gems particularly his opening monologue and
the very last one. However, there were moments when I would rather have heard what the characters were saying especially when the couple goes to an art museum as I thought it would be interesting to hear the different interpretations each character had to each display. Near the end in an attempt to show the characters aging Henry’s hair is dyed white, but it looks tacky like it was frosted on in a similar way that is done to white Christmas trees. I also thought it was strange that in the very final scene his hair suddenly goes back to being black, which didn’t make any sense.
Since this film is very obscure and had a limited run upon its initial release the only way to obtain it is through the director’s personal website at www.johnkorty.com The neat thing here it that when you order a copy Korty personally signs the DVD and even sends you a letter along with it. For a lifelong film collector such as myself I thought that was pretty cool and it even made my day.
My Rating: 6 out of 10
Released: October 3, 1966
Runtime: 1Hour 10Minutes
Director: John Korty
Studio: Continental Distributing
Available: DVD at www.johnkorty.com