Tag Archives: Joseph Bologna

Chapter Two (1979)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Trying to start over.

George (James Caan) is a famous author who has just lost his first wife. His brother Leo (Joseph Bologna) gives him the phone number to Jennie (Marsha Mason) who has recently gone through a divorce. After an initially awkward first encounter the two form an attachment and quickly decide to get married. Then on their honeymoon the memories of George’s recently deceased wife comes back to haunt him, which jeopardizes his new marriage.

The film, which is based on the hit Broadway play that ran for 857 performances and was written by Neil Simon, is largely inspired by the events of his own life as he lost his first wife, Joan Baim, on July 17, 1973 and then quickly married actress Marsha Mason on October 25th of that same year. Mason is essentially playing herself and her performance here is one of the movie’s stronger points.

An aspect of the film though that I found even more interesting is the fact that it reteams Mason and Caan just 6 years after they had starred in Cinderella Liberty. The romantic angle here though is much more realistic as both people are on a more equal footing as a relationship cannot work if one person is too severely dependent on the other. I also enjoyed seeing how Mason, a highly underrated actress, could effectively play both an emotionally weak person as she did in the 1973 film and a very strong one as she does here. My only quibble is that her character is again portrayed as being an actress just like she was in The Goodbye Girl, but there she was wracked with anxiety and struggling financially as most artists do while here she seemed too financially secure and more like a woman working in the corporate business world.

The film has a nice breezy pace and the romance is allowed to blossom naturally without ever feeling forced, which along with the excellent on-location shooting I really liked. The problem though comes with the fact that the leads are quite bland when compared to their supporting counterparts, which are played by Bologna and Valerie Harper. Bologna seems to steal any film he is in and he really should be given more starring vehicles. Harper is equally strong and nothing like her more famous Rhoda Morgenstern persona. Their characters have engaging flaws and the banter between them is far more comical. The film shifts uneasily between scenes featuring Caan/Mason to those with Bologna/Harper until it seems like two completely different movies going in opposite directions.

Having Caan’s character go from being really crazy about Mason to suddenly and quite literally overnight becoming aloof towards her is too severe and comes off like he is afflicted with a Jekyll and Hyde disorder. Likewise Mason is too forgiving with it when most people would simply get a quickie divorce since they had known each other for only 10 days. Yet even with all of these weaknesses I still found it a soothing and easy-to-take movie that should please romance aficionados everywhere.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: December 14, 1979

Runtime: 2Hours 4Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Robert Moore

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Available: DVD (Sony Choice Collection)

Blame it on Rio (1984)

blame it on rio 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Sex with friend’s daughter.

Victor (Joseph Bologna) is going through a messy divorce and in order to escape from the stress he invites his friend Matthew (Michael Caine) to join him and his daughter Jennifer (Michelle Johnson) on a trip to Rio de Janeiro. Initially Matthew was to bring along his wife Karen (Valerie Harper), but at the last minute she bails out, so instead he takes his daughter Nicole (Demi Moore) who is also Jennifer’s best friend. During the trip Jennifer’s long dormant feelings for Matthew come to a head and the two end up having a fling. Matthew sees this as a secret one-night-stand as he doesn’t want it to jeopardize his long friendship with Victor, but Jennifer wishes for it to blossom into a love affair and even considers, much to Matthew’s reluctance, informing her father about it.

The film, which has been the last theatrical feature to date to be directed by the legendary Stanley Donen, has a zesty start that features soothing music, luscious scenery and sharp dialogue. Unfortunately it goes downhill from there with the third act being the real problem. Instead of becoming an interesting character study and analyzing whether this otherwise strong friendship could survive such a shocking event it instead veers off into silliness by entering in a crazy twist of Mathew’s wife having a secret affair with Victor, which didn’t seem realistic or believable and cements the whole thing as being nothing more than a dumb, shallow lightweight comedy.

The usually reliable Caine is miscast and his big Harry Caray-like glasses become almost a distraction. His costar Bologna is the one who steals it in a role nicely attuned to his brash, hothead persona.

The weakest link though is Johnson who despite looking great topless clearly has very little acting talent. Her character is poorly defined and written by two middle-aged men who were out-of-touch with the younger generation and had no idea how they ticked.  At the beginning she behaves too much like a child and then suddenly when she gets it on with Matthew she is like an out-of-control sensuous vamp, which made the character come off like two different people altogether. The fact that she shows no apprehension at all in having sex with Matthew who is much older made little sense as I would think that any normal person  would feel nervous and despite the attraction even some reluctance. She also shows no concern for how stressed the whole thing made Matthew feel, which unintentionally made her appear quite selfish.

Moore would’ve been much better in Johnson’s role and in many ways sexier. I had to chuckle a bit because in Leonard Maltin’s review of this film he mentions that Demi seemed ‘intimidated’ during her topless scene at the beach, which is actually an understatement as she looks downright uncomfortable, which in turn makes the viewer feel the same way.

This film is the American remake of the French comedy One Wild Moment, which came out six years earlier and will be reviewed later this week.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: February 17, 1984

Runtime: 1Hour 40Minutes

Rated R

Director: Stanley Donen

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube

The Woman in Red (1984)

woman in red 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Lusting after a model.

Teddy (Gene Wilder) seems to have it all. A great wife (Judith Ivey) a good home in the suburbs and stable job, but then one day that all changes when he inexplicably meets Charlotte (Kelly LeBrock) a beautiful model who turns him on so much he can no longer think straight and jeopardizes his marriage in the process. He gets his friends Buddy and Joey (Charles Grodin, Joseph Bologna) to cover for him while he makes any excuse he can to get away and see her. Unfortunately through a misunderstanding the homely Ms. Milner (Gilda Radner) thinks she is the source of Teddy’s affections, so as Teddy tries to get with Charlotte he must also avoid Ms. Milner who is just as relentless.

The film starts off with lots of potential, but is unable to fully deliver. Part of the problem is that it introduces this amusing side-story involving Radner’s character and then abruptly drops it during the second half. Radner makes for a perfect comic foil and her scenes should’ve been played up much more. However, her attempts to get back at Teddy by vandalizing his car is amusing, but you would think that Teddy would want to know why she is so angry at him as he is unaware that he has mistakenly asked her out or at the very least sued her for the damages that she has done and yet the film doesn’t tackle any of this, but realistically should’ve.

Wilder, who also wrote and directed the film, is okay, but it doesn’t take enough advantage of his signature comic rants and high strung persona. Bologna is good as Teddy’s brash, womanizing friend, but I didn’t understand why he got so upset when his wife left him as he had openly fooled around on her with a lot of different women and most men in his situation would rejoice that they were now ‘free’.

The usually reliable Grodin is ineffective and the segment where he pretends to play a blind man that inadvertently tears up a bar is dumb and unfunny. I did however enjoy LeBrock who looks gorgeous throughout.

There are a few amusing moments including Teddy’s attempts at riding a horse despite having no experience, but overall the comedy is spotty. The pacing is poor and the story is disjointed coming off more like a bunch of vignettes strung around a one-joke plot. The only thing that saves it is the ending where Teddy attempts at ‘hiding out’ while standing on the ledge of a tall building that quickly attracts a lot of onlookers who think that his ready to jump, which is the movie’s best moment.

This film is actually a remake of the 1976 classic French film Pardon Mon Affaire, which I will review for next week.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: August 15, 1984

Runtime: 1Hour 27Minutes

Rated PG-13

Director: Gene Wilder

Studio: Orion Pictures

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube