Tag Archives: Judith Ivey

Compromising Positions (1985)

compromising positions

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Who murdered the dentist?

Bruce Fleckstein (Joe Mantegna) is a successful dentist who puts new meaning to the term ‘bedside manner’ as he flirts with all of his female patients and has affairs with many of them. When he turns up murdered it becomes a question of which of the many suspects did it, which intrigues housewife Judith (Susan Sarandon) and propels her to start her own independent investigation much to the consternation of her husband Bob (Edward Herrmann) who thinks it’s too dangerous. As the clues accumulate so do the advances of police detective David (Raul Julia) that she is working with, which quickly puts her marriage into jeopardy.

The film was produced and directed by Frank Perry who made many influential films during the 60’s and 70’s with his screenwriter wife Eleanor, but after their divorce the quality of his films diminished considerably. The last two that he made were in collaboration with Susan Isaacs with this one based on her novel of the same name. To an extent it works as the mystery angle is realistic enough to be interesting and the dark humor keeps it mildly entertaining.

Sarandon’s presence helps a lot and without her it wouldn’t have worked. Julia plays against type and it’s fun seeing him in more of a subdued type of role. The real scene stealer though is Judith Ivey who has some funny sarcastic lines and should’ve been seen more.

I also really liked how Sarandon’s character remains faithful to her husband despite her conflicts with him and the many advances that she gets from the police detective. Too many Hollywood pictures give the impression that marriage should be one long blissful union and the minute one partner isn’t completely receptive to the needs of the other then that entitles the other to cheat on them. Herrmann’s character is a borderline jerk, but he has legitimate reasons for why he feels the way he does and the movie refreshingly even gives him a moment to vent and explain them. I also thought that Julia’s character comes onto Sarandon much too quickly and the way he barrages into her bedroom while making aggressive advances seemed almost creepy.

The story does have a dated quality. Fleckstein is found to be distributing and printing porn, the kind with consenting adults and not kids, which the film portrays as being a ‘shocking revelation’ even though these days with the proliferation of it all over the net it is nothing but an afterthought to most. I also thought the idea that this guy would have BDSM sex with a lot of married women and even take explicit pictures of them, but still turn around and throw them some lines that he ‘loved’ them and they would all fall for it was ridiculous and unfairly portrayed women as being too easily manipulated and unsophisticated.

The resolution is limp and the film lacks anything that would help make it distinctive or memorable. The humor gets lost by the second half and the Ivey character should’ve been given more screen time and possibly even used as Sarandon’s investigative partner as her caustic take on things are the best thing about it.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: August 30, 1985

Runtime: 1Hour 39Minutes

Rated R

Director: Frank Perry

Studio: Paramount

Available: VHS

The Lonely Guy (1984)

the lonely guy

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: He needs a girlfriend.

This film almost seems like an extension of Steve Martin’s character in The Jerk and could probably be retitled ‘The Jerk Goes to the Big Apple’. Here we find the same incredibly vapid, highly benign character looking for love and adjusting to the pitfalls of being single.

Like with The Jerk the film taps into the same absurd type of humor some of which is quite funny, but other parts become stretched and even stupid. The best stuff comes at the beginning and then starts to get strained by the end. There is no real story and the whole thing is just loosely structured hit-or-miss comical bits casually tied around the theme of loneliness.

Based on the novel by Bruce Jay Friedman the script was written by Neil Simon, Ed Weinberger and Stan Daniels three titans of comedy who have written some smart stuff in the past and yet I found their script here to be a bit annoying. It takes on the serious issue of social alienation with kid gloves. The points that it makes are superficial with no effort to dig deeper or make any type of real statement. The single male characters are too hopeless and needy and too much emphasis is placed on relationships and the misconception that people who are in them are always happier than those who are not. It also acts like being in relationships will somehow solve everything.

Judith Ivey makes a nice addition as Martin’s eventual girlfriend. She is not glamorously beautiful and therefore the two make a nice and realistic looking pairing. Her scenes and interactions with Martin make the film much stronger.

Unfortunately with Charles Grodin, who is dynamic at dry deadpan humor, is not used to his full potential. Merv Griffin has an unfunny cameo and the recently departed Joyce Brothers also appears with her nerdette persona that was beginning to wear thin.  Singer Steve Lawrence is completely miscast as a ‘chick-magnet’.

The bit involving lonely men jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge every two minutes borders on being tasteless and the running gag involving Ivey having an orgasm every time a man sneezes is just plain dumb. However, the part where Martin argues with a policeman over whether the poop on the sidewalk is from his dog is a gem. There is also a hilarious bit involving Groodin throwing a party with cardboard cutouts of famous movie stars as his ‘guests’ although don’t look for one of Gene Hackman because his have to be reserved one-week in advance!

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: January 27, 1984

Runtime: 1Hour 30Minutes

Rated R

Director: Arthur Hiller

Studio: Universal

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video