By Richard Winters
My Rating: 7 out of 10
4-Word Review: Love at a convention.
Harry Mork (Glenn Ford) is a greeting card salesman traveling through New York on business when he bumps into the quirky and very lonely Elvie (Geraldine Page) who’s attending a convention there and eyes Harry as a potential catch. Harry though is already engaged to Phyllis (Angela Lansbury) a woman he has only known through correspondence, but is starting to have second thoughts about when he meets her grown son (Michael Anderson Jr.). Elvie tries putting on some moves, but Harry keeps backing away unsure at age 48 if he even wants to settle down at all as he has at times still feels the itch for the occasional fling.
One of this film’s crowning achievements and something that becomes like a third character are the crowd scenes. This may sound inconsequential, but many films have a hard time getting background extras to behave like people amidst large groups of strangers do, but here for whatever reason it gets it right and seeing the dizzying stream of people going back and forth leaves a strong impression and helps accentuate the loneliness and isolation of the main characters particularly Elvie.
I also liked the way the characters hemmed and hawed with each other during the beginning stages. At times Elvie seems more into Harry than he is with her and then other times it gets reversed. Both characters at different points put up an array of defenses and it takes a while for either of them to trust the other and come out of their shells and move into an actual relationship, which is far more realistic than most movies that usually jumps ahead too quickly and never shows the awkward phase that most anyone else goes when testing the waters with someone that they’ve just met.
Page is excellent as always playing the eccentric type of character that she’s proven to be quite adept at, however her myriad of strange quirks got a bit ridiculous and overdone.
Ford is equally good especially with this type of comedy where he plays nervous characters unsure of how to deal with some of the offbeat people around him. I was disappointed though that there was a long drawn out sequence where he tries to get a clerk at the gift card shop (Barbara Nichols) up to his hotel room for a fling, but the film then cuts away and never follows through with what occurred once they got up to the room even though it is later intimated that things didn’t go too well.
The supporting cast of familiar faces lends great comic support, but the most memorable thing about the film is that it features both actresses who went on to play the Mrs. Kravitz character in the ‘Bewitched’ TV-Show. There’s Alice Pearce, who played Mrs. Kravitz for the first two seasons before she died of cancer and then Sandra Gould who replaced her and there’s even a surreal moment where the two have a bit of a confrontation, which I found to be pretty cool.
My Rating: 7 out of 10
Released: December 2, 1964
Runtime: 1Hour 54Minutes
Director: Delbert Mann
Studio: Warner Brothers
Available: VHS, DVD (Warner Archive), Amazon Instant Video