Tag Archives: Ann-Margret

A New Life (1988)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: Life after a divorce.

Steve (Alan Alda) is shocked to learn that his wife of 26 years Jackie (Ann-Margret) wants a divorce, which forces him back into the dating scene that proves awkward. He eventually meets Kay (Veronica Hamel) and the two hit-it-off while Jackie gets into a relationship with a young artist named Doc (John Shea). Kay and Steve get married, but Jackie tires of her relationship and decides she’d be better off single.

Despite sporting an afro and beard it’s still the same Alda making the same bland type of movie with this one being more vanilla than his first two directorial efforts. At least with The Four Seasons and Sweet Liberty there was a mildly amusing spin to it, but here it’s sterile to a mind numbing degree and filled with nothing but generic characters going through basic life events almost like an inoffensive TV-movie on steroids.

Cutting back-and-forth between Alda’s budding new relationship and then Ann-Margret’s doesn’t work. At least with Alda there was a character arch as he goes from being a curmudgeon to sensitive modern day male, while Ann-Margret starts out cold and then just stays that way. As an actress she seems to have a hard time showing any genuine emotion while her attempts to convey inner angst come off looking quite affected. I realize she’s had a long, solid career, but her presence here is just plain blah and her square jaw features makes her look more and more like a female impersonator the older she gets. I also never believed that these two people were ever really married as they lack chemistry and their strained ‘spats’ become as trite as the material

The most annoying thing though is the scene where Alda grabs his chest while playing tennis and complains about severe pains so he’s rushed to the hospital, which is where he meets Kay. However, the lab tests reveal nothing wrong with him and the whole event gets written off as being ‘no big deal’ and never mentioned again, which is absurd.  People don’t collapse to the ground crying out in pain over ‘nothing’ as there had to have been some cause for it, so what was it? Having a movie blithely skip over this and treat it like some meaningless anomaly simply as an excuse so his character could begin a romance with Kay is truly weak writing and makes this threadbare film even more shallow.

Hal Linden is fun as Alda’s glib, womanizing friend and he should’ve been in the movie more since he’s the only thing that gives it a modicum of life while scrapping the side-story dealing with Ann-Margret. Focusing solely on these two middle-aged bachelors trying to make a go of it in the trendy, single’s scene had potential. At least it would’ve been better than the overly pat thing we get here that fails to stand out in any way.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: March 25, 1988

Runtime: 1Hour 44Minutes

Rated PG-13

Director: Alan Alda

Studio: Paramount

Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Video, YouTube

Middle Age Crazy (1980)

middle age crazy

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Not Ready for 40.

Bobby Lee (Bruce Dern) is a Texas businessman who builds taco stands for a living. Although he is genuinely happy with his life he finds his job boring and dealing with the demanding clients to be frustrating. He loves his wife Sue Ann (Ann-Margret), but her constant smothering him with love makes him feel suffocated. Turning 40 becomes a major milestone and one he wishes would go away. To compensate he starts to act erratically by buying himself an expensive sports car, telling off his obnoxious clients and even having an affair with a much younger woman, but it all makes him feel empty and just as lost and confused.

Having turned the wrong side of 40 myself now several years back I can vouch for what this character is feeling and some of the points it makes are certainly relatable to anyone the same age especially males. The first half of the movie is the best as it has several dream-like segments where the character fantasizes about seeing himself in different situations. The one where he sees himself presiding over his own funeral is amusing, but the best one is where he imagines having sex with his college-aged son’s girlfriend in the backseat of a car while the tune ‘Good Girls Don’t’ by the Knack plays on the radio.

The dialogue is equally funny with some politically incorrect lines that really hit-the-mark with the strongest one coming during a commencement speech that he imagines giving to a graduating class of high school seniors. It was so good I felt obligated to print a slightly condensed version of it here:

“Every year thousands of you kids put on these silly, fucking hats to hear some other kid in a silly, fucking hat tell you that you are the future, but there is not enough future to go around. If you want to know your real future look at your folks in the stands. Fat butts and sagging tits that’s your future. If you had any sense you would give back your diplomas and silly hats and stay 18 the rest of your lives. You don’t want the future because the future sucks!”

The acting is a real grab bag. Graham Jarvis a balding actor best known for playing uptight characters scores here as Bobby’s foul mouthed over-sexed friend J.D. Dern who is almost always engaging especially in bad guy roles seems too restrained and even boring. Ann-Margret is much too clingy as the wife and would probably drive any man away and Michael Kane’s caricature of an obnoxious Texas businessman is irritatingly clichéd.

The film veers into heavy-handed drama during the second half and ultimately limps along to a flat finale. Had the film stayed with the lighthearted, quirky tone that it had at the beginning it might have worked, but instead comes off as rather amateurish and disjointed.

The film is based on a Jerry Lee Lewis song and has a hard time taking a basic idea, which is what a song really is and trying to turn it into feature length material. It is also interesting to note that despite being filmed on-location in Texas the movie was financed by a Canadian production company, which technically makes it a foreign film.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: July 25, 1980

Runtime: 1Hour 37Minutes

Rated R

Director: John Trent

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: VHS

The Pleasure Seekers (1964)

the pleasure seekers

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Finding romance in Spain.

Three young American women decide to room together in Madrid. Fran (Ann-Margret) is the flirtatious, sexy one. Maggie (Carol Lynley) is more stoic and sensible while Susie (Pamela Tiffin) is the most naïve of the trio. Fran falls in-love with a dashing young doctor while Maggie has an affair with her much older boss Paul (Brian Keith) and Susie tries to get her playboy boyfriend Emilio (Anthony Franciosa) to settle down and marry her.

The film is cute and engaging for the most part and helped mainly by the performances and contrasting personalities of the three female leads. Ann-Margret is quite sensual especially when she sings and dances in her bikini on the beach. She also does a great rendition of the film’s title tune and I was at a lost as to why it wasn’t played over the opening credits as it has a definite verve and bounce. Lynley is solid as the more jaded worldly-wise of the three and helps give the story an anchor. Tiffin is amusing with her wide-eyed comments and despite being considered dumb turns out to be quite clever in the way she manipulates her womanizing boyfriend.

I was hoping the film would focus more on their living arrangement as it is evident from the beginning that their different habits and perspectives would be ripe for interesting comic scenarios. Instead the film veers almost exclusively to the romance angle, which makes the film one-dimensional and dangerously close to being completely vapid. Certain prime comic set-ups do not get followed through on and the part where Susie allows herself to be lead into Emilio’s car before she even knows his name is just too recklessly insane even for a more innocent era. The songs are sparse and spread so far apart that you almost forget that it is a musical. I did like the flamingo dance segment done on stage by a talented male performer and then later at the beach by two children who couldn’t have been more than 3-years-old.

Normally I am a great admirer of Brian Keith, but his appearance here is all wrong. His gruff, brash manner does not work as a love interest and there is absolutely no chemistry between he and Lynley making their love affair seem unbelievable. This was also Gene Tierney’s last film.  She gets a rather thankless, small part as Keith’s jilted, bitter wife. Her hair is much shorter and she looks very middle-aged and lost all her youthful beauty that she had during her classic film roles of the 40’s and 50’s, but her confrontation with Lynley during a party is okay.

Basically this is an updated version of Three Coins in the Fountain, which was done by the same director and the only difference being that it took place in Rome. The film is pleasant enough to be watchable, but rather empty and mindless and best suited for romantics looking for an evening of mild entertainment.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: December 25, 1964

Runtime: 1Hour 46Mintutes

Not Rated

Director: Jean Negulesco

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Not Available at this time.