Tag Archives: David Doyle

Loving (1970)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 8 out of 10

4-Word Review: Commercial artist fools around.

Brooks (George Segal) is a commercial artist who spends most of his time chasing after clients, which he finds exhausting and takes away from the creative process. Although married to the beautiful Selma (Eva Marie Saint) he still sees  Grace (Janis Young) on the side, but she’s tired of being the other woman and wants him to divorce his wife and commit to her, which he resists. Despite all of these issues Brooks manages to keep his philandering hidden until one night when they attend a party at a friend’s house where his fooling around unexpectedly comes out into the open for all to see.

So many films have tried to capture that perfect day-in-the-life feel, but usually end up failing by either jazzing-up the drama, or becoming boring by  not having enough happening. Director Irvin Kerschner manages to find the right balance by having the characters continue to do things as they speak. For instance showing Brooks’ boss (Keenan Wynn) converse with him over the phone while folding up his hideaway bed. Why was he sleeping on the couch? Was he having marital problems of his own? Could be, but this visual approach allows the scenes to remain active while also conveying how everyone has issues and not just our protagonist. It also remains realistic as most people are usually doing other things while talking on the phone and never just sitting motionless like it gets portrayed in many other movies.

I enjoyed too how the film explores the job duties that Brooks has including the way he takes photos of models, sometimes he even using himself, and then traces their outlines from the picture to create a different artistic rendering, which I found fascinating. Much of the reason for these intricate details has much to do with the fact that the script is based on the novel ‘Brooks Wilson Ltd.’ by John McDermott under the pen name of J.M. Ryan, who was an illustrator in real-life, for Disney studios, and parlayed his experience of the craft to the main character. I also found it interesting how Brooks’ clients would sometimes have minor, subjective complaints about his work forcing him, for the sake of pleasing them and making money, to begrudgingly change what he had originally created and thus showing how the business side can squelch the artistic inspirations of creative people and take away the enjoyment they once had for their craft.

Even the children characters get handled much better than in most films. Granted their parts have very little to do with the plot, but still like in every parent’s life they’re always around causing disruptions and noise even when you have your mind occupied with other things. They’re also not portrayed as sickingly sweet or excessively bratty, but like with most kids an equal combination of both. The oldest girl, who looked to be about 8, also has one of the film’s funniest moments as she’s shown reading a book on the sofa while a nude model, who her father is sketching, stands right in front of her, which she finds to be no big deal.

Spoiler Alert!

The film’s best moment though is still the ending where Brooks goes to a party and makes love to his best friend’s wife (Nancie Phillips) in a child’s empty playroom to the amusement of the the other guests who watch them in another room, unbeknownst to Brooks, on closed circuit TV. Not only is this scene hilarious, but dramatically powerful as Will (David Doyle), whose wife is caught fooling around with Brooks, physically attacks Brooks outside afterwards and the look of anger and betrayal on his face reveals, despite the funny set-up, how emotionally devastating philandering can be to the other spouse.

The film though fails to offer any conclusion. We sit through 90-minutes of seeing the marriage slowly disintegrate, but then are left watching the couple staring at each with no idea whether they were able to patch things up, or divorce. The viewer feels cheated that no clear answer is given and a brief denouncement showing where the main character ultimately ends up, whether it be with a new love, his same wife, or all alone, should’ve been added.

My Rating: 8 out of 10

Released: March 4, 1970

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

Rated R

Director: Irvin Kerschner

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Available: DVD, Amazon Video, YouTube

Ginger in the Morning (1974)

ginger in the morning

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Older man/younger woman.

Joe is a middle-aged, recently divorced man trying to stumble his way back into the single scene. He passes by Ginger (Sissy Spacek) who is hitchhiking alongside a roadway and decides to pick her up. He is attracted to her youthful carefreeness and hopes to take advantage of her ‘free-love’ hippie attitude by bringing her back to his place for some quick easy sex. However, Ginger is secretly pregnant and looks at Joe’s maturity as a good father-figure for her child, which Joe is not ready for. Charlie (Mark Miller) is Joe’s best friend who along with his wife Sugar (Susan Oliver) barrages in and disrupts everything.

The story starts out okay with the budding relationship between the two leads and their attempts to try to get beyond the generation gap I found to be appealing. The film though shifts gears in jarring fashion by allowing Charlie and Sugar to enter into it and then gets even further away from the main theme by having the third act dealing with the male bonding between Charlie and Joe. It is only at the very end that it gets back to the romantic concept, but the whole thing ends up coming off like three movies crammed into one. All three story threads are weak and better suited for an episode of ‘Love American Style’ than a feature film.

Screenwriter Miller casts himself as Charlie who is obnoxious and dumb and given too much screen-time. Blonde actress Oliver wears a black wig that looks hideous and their incessant bickering is contrived and the cutesy way they magically make-up at the end is strained.

Markham who has been acting consistently since 1966 and remains busy even today, but has never achieved stardom is okay in a rare leading film role. His character of a middle-aged man trying to ‘connect’ with the much younger Ginger by making broad assumptions about her generation is quite relatable. Spacek though comes off best out of all of them. Her character seems like a real person while the rest are caricatures and her twangy Texas accent fits the part. She even sings the film’s theme song, which isn’t bad.

Character actor David Doyle can be seen at the beginning as a yapping man who gives Joe the ‘finer points’ of picking up women and one-night-stands. Slim Pickens is essentially wasted as the town’s sheriff, but he manages to make the most of the few scenes that he is in.

The use of a hard spotlight gives the production a cheap, low budget look and some soft lighting would have created a better mood and artistic design. There is also a boom mike that can be seen for several minutes in one scene. Yet despite the film’s amateurish look I still liked its unpretentious quality as well as the cute climatic sequence that takes place on a bus, which propelled me to give this thing a rather generous 5 rating.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: July 17, 1974

Runtime: 1Hour 34Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Gordon Wiles

Studio: Kyma-Circle

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video