By Richard Winters
My Rating: 7 out of 10
4-Word Review: Gotta love Shirley MacLaine.
Much like with Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow Vittorio De Sica directs a collage of stories all centering on a different female character and all played by the same actress this time being Shirley MacLaine who is fabulous. In fact she is so good that her famous male co-stars get badly upstaged and their presence almost becomes transparent.
The first story is entitled ‘Funeral Procession’ and deals with MacLaine playing the character of Paulette who is grieving over the recent death of her husband. As they are walking behind the hearse that is carrying her husband to his gravesite her friend Jean (Peter Sellers) uses this moment to proposition her for a weekend of sex and fun at an isolated getaway. The irony in this one is amusing and De Sica makes great use of nuance particularly the way everyone tries to avoid the messy puddles they come upon during the procession.
‘Amateur Night’ is the second segment and this one deals with Maria Theresa (MacLaine) coming home early from a vacation only to find her husband Giorgio (Rossano Brazzi) in bed with her best friend. She becomes so upset that she runs out of the house and into a group of prostitutes who lend a sympathetic ear as well as concocting some revenge. The interplay of the prostitutes is quite amusing and I loved watching all the different items that she throws at Giorgio during her rage, but the final payoff on this one could have been better.
MacLaine plays Linda in the third segment, which is entitled ‘Two Against One’. This is where she takes two competing suitors (Vittorio Gassman, Clinton Greyn) up to her apartment and reads them poems while she is completely naked. This segment is a bit forced and the attempts at satirizing the artsy-fartsy crowd is strained, but the creative ways De Sica cover-ups MacLaine’s otherwise naked body, so the viewer never sees anything explicit is amusing.
‘Super Simone’ makes up the fourth story and deals with Edith (MacLaine) becoming jealous because her writer husband Rik (Lex Barker) seems more infatuated with the female character in the book that he is writing than with her. Her wild attempts to get his attention backfires as he starts to think that she is going insane and even brings in a psychiatrist (Robert Morley) to take her away. The story here is slightly contrived, but MacLaine with a short bob haircut is adorable and the foot chase at the end along some apartment rooftops is visually engaging.
MacLaine gives an hilarious over-the-top performance in the fifth segment entitled ‘At the Opera’ dealing with a rich woman who becomes enraged when she finds out that another woman will be wearing the same dress that she will to an exclusive opera. The satirical jabs at the rich are on-target, but it loses steam at the end.
The weakest segment of them all that is barely even funny is the sixth one entitled ‘Suicides’. This is where a young couple (MacLaine, Alan Arkin) decide to commit suicide as a form of vague political protest, but then both chicken out at the end.
The seventh and final segment is entitled ‘Snow’ and deals with a married woman who becomes intrigued by a handsome stranger (Michael Caine) who follows her around the city streets, but who may not be who he seems. Most of the time movies like these have the final story be a strong one, but this one is strangely subdued making the film end with a whimper instead of the bang that it should. This segment is also novel because Caine barely even utters one word of dialogue and becomes completely wasted in the process.
Overall this is fun lightweight entertainment with a great chance to see MacLaine’s wide acting ability and different hairstyles and looks.
My Rating: 7 out of 10
Released: June 27, 1967
Runtime: 1Hour 40Minutes
Director: Vittorio De Sica
Studio: Embassy Pictures
Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video, Netflix Streaming