By Richard Winters
My Rating: 6 out of 10
4-Word Review: Bachelor becomes a babysitter.
Harley (Warren Beatty) is a struggling filmmaker living alone in a rundown Greenwich Village apartment where he makes low-grade blue movies to pay the rent. Michele (Leslie Caron) moves into the apartment next door. She is a recently widowed mother who has Harley babysit her 2-year-old (Michael Bradley) while she romances the child psychologist (Robert Cummings) that she works for whom she feels will also make for a good father. The problem is that Harley falls for Michele and soon makes a play for her affections as well.
After recently reviewing other bachelor themed films from the ‘60s I felt this was a definite upgrade. Instead of portraying young single men living in plush pads and having cushy jobs this one shows a more realistic side with a character that struggles to make ends meet while also harboring a beatnik philosophy that young men of that time were starting to embrace. Arthur Hiller’s direction has shades of the offbeat and irreverent while Tom Jones’ singing gives it hipness.
I also enjoyed Beatty’s presence and felt this was one of his better comedies as the scenario takes full advantage of his detached, glib manner while also tapping into his notorious lady’s man image. The scenes where he talks about enjoying the benefits of marriage, but without being married or expounding on the virtues of socialized medicine made the character seem downright ahead-of-his-time.
Cummings, in one of his last film appearances, is also fun and his stuffy, uptight ways makes for a great contrast to Beatty. Why someone who hates kids would ever decide to become a child psychologist makes little sense, but it’s still funny as is his banter with his more modern thinking mother (Cathleen Nesbitt).
Caron seemed miscast as she was already in her mid-30s at the time and an actress who was in her 20s and more Beatty’s age would’ve been a better fit. I also didn’t care for the character’s dated, old-school ways of thinking including the idea of marrying a man simply for the security that he could offer even if she didn’t love him or that children must have a father figure in their life or they will turn out ‘psychologically abnormal’ if raised only by a single parent. Her attempts at hiding the fact that she had a child until after the Cummings character had proposed to her and she’d securely ‘snared’ him is equally offensive.
The plot is paper thin and I’ll admit I watched this on my Amazon fire tablet and halfway in I accidently kicked the table it was sitting on and in my attempt to catch the tablet before it dropped to the ground I inadvertently jumped the film ahead by 20 minutes, but had no idea I had done so until it had ended. When I went back to review what I had missed I realized it hadn’t been much.
The undernourished script by William Peter Blatty has a few amusing bits, but nothing that’s laugh-out-loud funny. The climactic sequence in which Beatty tries to heroically save the child who’s trapped on a moving crane might’ve been more exciting had it not been so obviously done in front of blue screen.
My Rating: 6 out of 10
Released: February 22, 1966
Runtime: 1Hour 38Minutes
Director: Arthur Hiller
Available: VHS, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube
A dreadful comedy so typical of the 1960s Hollywood comedy junk pile: Good Neighbor Sam, Luv, Goodbye Charlie, John Goldfarb…, Irma la Douce, The Great Race, How to Murder Your Wife, Bedtime Story, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, Sex and the Single Girl, A Guide for the Married Man, Divorce American Style, Penelope, Boeing, Boeing.
It also has Donald Sutherland in a tiny role as a man pestering Cummings for a lot of book signings. This would be just before he started to hit it big.
Beatty is awful here. He mugs and displays no flair for comedy. The movie is desperately unfunny.