Tag Archives: Tuesday Weld

Author! Author! (1982)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Playwright has family issues.

Ivan (Al Pacino) is a playwright struggling to get his next creation ‘English with Tears’ financed and produced. While he has managed to attain the necessary funding he still has a second act that everyone feels ‘needs work’, but before he can tackle that his wife Gloria (Tuesday Weld) leaves him for another man (Frederic Kimball). Now he must contend with raising the five kids alone with four of them being hers from a previous relationship.

The screenplay was written by Israel Horovitz and loosely based on his own experiences as a single parent. Horovitz has written many plays, over 70 of them, several have been considered at least in their day as groundbreaking, so this thing seems incredibly contrived by comparison. The scenes dealing with Ivan’s struggles in regards to his play and the politics that ensue in order to get it made are the most interesting aspects of the movie and the story should’ve solely focused on this angle while the home-life stuff proves sterile and better suited for a sitcom.

The kids seem too connected to the adult world around them. Children can certainly be astute at times, but they still dwell in their own little bubbles and this film shows no awareness of that and instead has them saying lines that more likely would’ve been uttered by an adult. Benjamin H. Carlin has a few cute moments as the young Geraldo, but Ari Meyers, who would later go on to star in the TV-show ‘Kate and Allie’ gives the best performance when she breaks down into tears as she describes the hardships of being booted around from one household to the next.

It’s nice seeing Pacino doing light comedy, which is a real change of pace for him, but he’s too intense and does not play off of Weld, who is more emotionally restrained, well at all. The scene where he tries to physically drag her into a taxi cab isn’t funny, but scary instead and most likely would’ve had those who were standing around witnessing it trying to intervene, or calling the cops.

Dyan Cannon is not effective as the kooky actress who stars in his play and then later moves in with him. Had her character’s eccentricities been played up more she might’ve at least been amusing, but the script doesn’t go far enough with this and having her call him up out-of-the-blue and ask to go to bed with him seemed too outrageously forward. There was some dramatic potential when, after she moves in with him and his kids, she is then asked to move out when Weld’s character comes back into the picture. This could’ve opened the door to a lot of dramatic fireworks and given the film a real lift, but instead she just leaves quietly and is essentially forgotten, which then begs the question why even bother introducing her character at all?

The scenes where Ivan frets about his play and the audience reactions to it are the best parts of the film because it shows the inner anxieties of just about any playwright or screenwriter out there, which is why this should’ve been the central point of the movie as it is the only thing that helps the story stand out. By comparison the family life stuff is generic and filled with too much manufactured cutesiness. It also wastes the talents of Alan King who is mildly amusing, at least at the beginning, as the play’s producer as well as the legendary comedy team of Bob Elliot and Ray Goulding who play the part of the play’s financiers.

The film’s title song ‘Coming Home to You’, which plays over the opening credits as well as the closing ones is so overly sugary that it is enough to make you want to turn the movie off before it’s even begun. It got nominated for a Razzie award for worst original song and it should’ve won as there could not be anything that would be worse, but what is even more amusing is that no one gets credited for singing it, which should’ve been a signal to director Arthur Hiller not to feature it in the film because if the song’s own singer is embarrassed by it then who else would like it.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: June 18, 1982

Runtime: 1Hour 50Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Arthur Hiller

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: DVD

Play It As It Lays (1972)

play it as it lays 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: Her life is empty.

If there ever was a title that aptly described its picture it’s this one as this thing truly does just lay there like a dead body. It’s another one of those stories about a beautiful actress/model (Tuesday Weld) who has fame, fortune, and looks and yet still feels empty. She is a part of the ‘been there, done that’ crowd that now wonders what there is left to do and the plot gets told in a fragmented narrative that at first seems diverting, but eventually goes nowhere.

It was made in an era where if the message wasn’t sad and depressing then it wasn’t ‘important’. The filmmakers have already made up their minds that life is depressing and meaningless and then proceed to beat the viewer over the head with it in each and every scene. Supposedly then the audience is to walk away thanking them for the beating.

The characters represent everything that is irritating about the Hollywood crowd. They are self- absorbed and self-loathing. They fail to put meaning into their lives and yet somehow life has failed them if meaning doesn’t just come up and punch them in the nose. Whine and moan, take a drug hit, whine and moan, go to bed with a stranger, and whine and moan some more.

It’s hard to become attached to those who are so detached from themselves and even harder to like those who can’t stand themselves. Eventually you just give up, especially when the film works on the same spiritless level as the characters. You begin to just laugh at it since every despondent look and quasi philosophical discussion soon becomes redundant making this drama more like high cliché.

Weld and Antony Perkins teamed up earlier in Pretty Poison which has a much more original storyline and interesting characters and you should watch that one instead.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: October 19, 1972

Runtime: 1Hour 39Minutes

Rated R

Director: Frank Perry

Studio: Universal

Available: None at this time

Serial (1980)

serial

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: He doesn’t like fads.

The world has turned into one giant fad and everyone and everything is a part of it. Martin Mull is the one remnant of sanity as he tries to survive in it while still keeping his balance.

There is hardly anything cinematic about this picture. Take out some of the ‘dirty’ references and you have a TV-movie. In many ways it’s barely a movie at all, but more of a compilation of skits running along the same theme.

Mull is definitely a good anchor as his glib, sardonic comments help keep this thing churning. The rest of the characters though don’t resemble real people in any way and many of the fads shown weren’t really followed by that many to begin with. It’s pretty restrained and soft and fails to attain the acidic wit of the Cyra McFadden novel of which it is based.

Attacking trendy people isn’t too difficult and this film fails to supply any new perspective on the subject. This is probably the most annoying thing about it, which is that it is as vapid and superficial as the people and lifestyles it tries to mock.

The film does manage to be fast paced and there are a few slightly amusing bits, which could prove entertaining to those on a really, really slow night. Of the good stuff there is a dog groomer who shouts to his barking dogs to “Shut up you sons of bitches.” There is also Mull going to an orgy and having to step through a whole mass of naked bodies before he can find his girlfriend. Kudos also must go out to the climatic finale that features a gay biker gang lead by Christopher Lee who rampage (on their motorbikes!) the home of a religious cult. The running gag of having Tuesday Weld constantly referring to the Pamela Bellwood character as a ‘cunt’ isn’t bad either.

Also, Ed Begley Jr. can be heard on the radio as a DJ in the opening sequence.

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My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: March 28, 1980

Runtime: 1Hour 26Minutes

Rated R

Director: Bill Persky

Studio: Paramount

Available: DVD