92 posts categorized "Romantic Comedy"

March 22, 2018

THEY ALL LAUGHED

Colesmithey.comPeter Bogdanovich’s underseen romantic comedy is an unabashed love letter to 1980 Manhattan. Storyline and plot take a welcome backseat to an attractive if iconic cast portraying characters digging each other and the summer midtown New York vibe they inhabit.

Frank Sinatra’s songs of the era (“New York, New York”) contrast against country music tunes to give the movie a surprisingly effective musical lilt. It is a picture about love and joy that celebrates its own purpose for being. Knowing nods between characters acknowledge the film’s open secret. We’re constantly watching characters admiring or spying on one other from afar.

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You can’t help but stumble over yourself as an audience member watching Audrey Hepburn, Ben Gazzara, John Ritter, Colleen Camp, Patti Hansen, Blane Novak, and former Playboy playmate Dorothy Stratten goofing around as the least believable private detectives and subjects you could dream of.  

They-all-laughed-

There may not be much dramatic conflict, but that’s the point. Colleen Camp’s request from a street vendor for a “very large orange juice” is rewarded with a small half-filled Styrofoam cup. New York culture is crammed into every frame.  

They-all-laughed-still

Bogdanovich takes inspiration from Arthur Schnitzler’s often-adapted play “La Ronde” to create this lighthearted comedy of manners that never strays from the shallow end of the screwball comedy pool. Pratfalls come with the territory but “What’s Up Doc” this is not. Still, nobody falls down funnier than John Ritter.

Algonquin

“They All Laughed” is as breezy as its title suggests, but there are so many tiny elements that make you want to revisit the picture. Patti Hansen’s guileless smile, scenes filmed in and around Manhattan’s legendary Algonquin Hotel, and Dorothy Stratten’s stunning charisma contribute to the film’s friendly appeal.

John Ritter

If you’ve ever wanted to take a time machine vacation back to 1980 New York where you can do no wrong, this fun-loving movie makes it possible. We’re all in the mood for love.

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Rated PG. 115 mins.

3 Stars

COLE SMITHEY

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

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February 19, 2018

CACTUS FLOWER

Cactus_flowerBased on a Broadway play that was based on a French play (“Fleur de cactus” by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Grédy), this is a 1969 romantic comedy with style, wit, charm, sophistication, and several delightful moments of women’s lib in action. The women in the story set the ethical and moral standards even if by default.

The movie also happens to be a great time capsule of late ‘60s fashion, music, and culture in Manhattan. Check out all of those Beatles albums on the wall of the record store where Goldie Hawn works.

Guggenheim lovers look out for a date scene with Walter Matthau and Goldie Hawn in the green-lit museum where there turns out to be a very pronounced echo.

Cactus Flower 1969

Gene Saks (“The Odd Couple”) again directs Walter Matthau, this time as Dr. Julian Winston, a Midtown dentist in love with Toni (Goldie Hawn in her feature film debut), a hippie chic half Julian’s age. Julian’s lies to Toni, about having a wife and three kids, catch up with him when he decides to pop the question. Keep in mind that Toni is suicidal, and is being watched over by her doting neighbor Igor (Rick Lenz), who saves Toni’s life. Igor is on the prowl for Toni even if it means stealing her away from Julian. 

Cactus flower
Julian’s loyal nurse and secretary Stephanie Dickinson (Ingrid Bergman) suffers an awful indignity when Julian invites her out for a drink only to plead for her to pretend to be his wife while meeting Toni. Julian is naturally oblivious to the torch that Stephanie carries for him. She makes him chicken-and-egg-salad sandwiches for crying out loud.

Mattheu & Hawn

Goldie Hawn uses her large expressive eyes and effortless physicality to great visual effect for her slinky character. There's more than a little Edie Sedgwick in Goldie Hawn's appearance. In return, the straight-laced Matthau walks a fine line as a reprehensible liar you can’t help but adore even if he is a dentist. “The Bad News Bears” was yet to come as another milestone performance in a long and treasured career.

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Ingrid Bergman, however, is this movie’s secret weapon. Bergman proves to be a crafty comic presence that links the film’s bawdy humor to darker emotional colors. She get laughs too. The international movie star of “Casablanca” and “Spellbound” savors the driest dialogue with naturalism, depth, and a whiff of magic dust. Ingrid Bergman’s performance is just delightful. This is as good as Cinema gets, a genre film with all of the ideal elements in place.

Ingrid Bergman

“Cactus Flower” is a hidden gem. The scene between Toni and Stephanie, in the record shop where Toni works, is worth the price of admission alone. Bergman and Hawn are so much fun to watch. A dance floor duet between the actresses also pays off on the film’s entertaining premise of star-crossed lovers finding their way toward one another.  

Rated M. 103 mins. 

4 Stars

COLE SMITHEY

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon. Thanks a lot pal!

Cole Smithey on Patreon

October 09, 2017

ARTHUR

ArthurThis long forgotten romantic comedy represents a perfect storm of comic talents coming together for an enjoyable Manhattan-centric movie that sticks with you. Writer/director Steve Gordon had worked for years as a television comedy writer on series such as “Barney Miller” before crafting the only film he would ever make; Gordon perished a year later from a heart attack.

Dudley Moore had accumulated a career’s worth of success doing British comedy with the “Beyond the Fringe” group in the ‘60s. His comedy partnership with Peter Cook had given way to films (“Bedazzled” and “Monte Carlo or Bust”) and sought-after (nearly banned) comedy albums. Moore’s comic performance in the 1979 Blake Edwards film “10” catapulted him into the Hollywood orbit that led to his role as Arthur Bach in “Arthur,” for which he received an Oscar nomination.

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A romantic comedy about a filthy rich, womanizing drunk might not sound like much on paper, but the dynamic chemistry between Dudley Moore, John Gielgud, and Liza Minnelli gave audiences something to savor. The movie was a box office hit.

A plethora of high-profile Manhattan filming locations (such as Central Park, the Plaza Hotel, and the Carnegie Mansion) create a perfect time capsule of '80s era New York City that the film’s sticky valentine theme song seems to mock. Never mind that “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” was co-written by Burt Bacharach, and won an Oscar for Best Original Song. 

Arthur2
The narrative is straight as an arrow. Wealthy alcoholic man/boy Arthur Bach can only receive his part of the family fortune if he marries the family’s pre-approved Susan Johnson (Jill Eikenberry). Arthur doesn’t like anyone, least of all himself, until he runs across Linda Morolla (Liza Minnelli) stealing a tie for her dad’s birthday from Bergdorf Goodman. It’s not so much that Linda stirs a shift to sobriety for Arthur as that we start to see the anti-hero through her eyes. Dudley Moore’s effortless, self-deprecating, knack for slapstick exposes Arthur’s warmth and wit in spite of the chaos he causes.  

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“Arthur” is a much better movie than you’d expect it to be, and certainly far better than the film’s inept trailer portends. Keep an eye out for Geraldine Chaplin's hilarious performance as Arthur's take-no-guff grandmother.

That sappy song ("When you get stuck between moon and New York City") will be wedged in your head for days, but “Arthur” is worth every minute of the torture.

Rated PG. 97 mins. (B) (Three Stars — out of five / no halves)

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