I Saw A film!
In 1965 Woody Allen was a red-headed Funko-pop version of himself and someone thought it would be a great idea to let him write a comedy screenplay. The result is this wholesome, white-bread, slapstick, sex adjacent, square-ass, mustard-on-a-hotdog of a film. Yes there are a few guffaws delivered by Peter Sellers, largely due to him channeling Spike Milligan (his old, funnier Goon’s Show partner) for a few sequences (“Control your knees immediately, or I will have them shaved within the hour!”).
Peter O’toole at 33 playing a playboy with plenty of lady attention (because, we’re told, under a certain light he’s almost handsome) lives above the cute Romy Scheinder, she of wide-set Carmen Miranda eyes (though a lighter shade), and can’t quite seem to bring himself to put a ring on it. Why not? Well, he’s really having an amazing time with such a terrific mix of beauties there’s no one in the world who could blame him. But that’s the catch isn’t it? Sacrifice is only sacrifice if the sacrifice is actually something dearly wanted. No lady cares about the devotion of a old fart who no longer attracts! They’re only going to be bowled over when you’re sacrificing your best years! Agamemnon gave a daughter to the gods when he set sail for Troy to provide the winds. Homer does not say she was nearly dead from disease and accident anyway. And the gods were not amused by the sacrifice of the least important of mankind’s domestic livestock . . . and so it goes that man must sacrifice his most productive love years to be taken seriously by woman. No woman wants a man who is no longer wanted by any women, and so the old saw about only being attractive when with a woman is in fact a reality.
O’toole, one might forget, is actually splendid in his clownish gangling comic roles. He’s terrific at leaping over clutter, pressing himself into doorways, swinging from drapes and producing amazingly bright-eyed con-artist moments no matter how silly, we’re along for the ride. Sellers and Allen both have large parts and both divide up the screen time well. Woody has always played the same role, that of somewhat self-important but flailing under man to all the world’s he-men around him, but it’s cute to see this baby version of that character he really filled out in the 70s.
OK here’s the gist, Otoole isn’t ready to settle with Romy, though he loves her. Romy is actually playing with Woody while trying to get Otoole to commit. Some of the best bits are when Romy visits Woody’s squalor of a bachelor pad, and he describes the food he’s got on offer which includes fig newtons and cough drops. Man you better be charming.
When Otoole’s character finally commits he’s soon sneaking out and making his way to a “meeting” to hook-up with a babe. One of them, Ursula Andress, literally falls out of the sky into his convertible. I mean a literal Bond girl (and they do point out this relationship in a fast joke).
By the end of this magnificent pile up of errors, we’re treated to a cartoonish Steppenwolf of ladies behind doors, foreigners battling with razors on bedspreads, a mini-car chase in go-carts, A Valkyrie opera singer in full regalia and spear, fizzing cartoon bombs, cops dumped into a pig-sty and countless other common comic atrocities that probably would have made the Marx Brothers blush. When I saw it in the 70s I loved it so. Now, of course, with decades of reality, death, and heartbreak behind me, it’s a little bit stale.
Romy saves the day. Such a delightful cutie with a delicious accent. Gone far too soon, like too many beauties.
I’m entirely randomly watching this on my birthday (I was born when this thing was made (1965 was a bit before the actual 60s as we think of them (hippies, protest, psych rock, Vietnam, Nixon) would have happened)), and Sellers’ therapist recommending neurotic Allen get an Italian sports car to up his game with the ladies and end his malaise is an amusing aside for this middle-aged old fool without the means of getting even a decent blue-collar American thing! How fun would it be to have that means. Allen of course spends several sequences proving he can’t drive for beans (spending his time on sidewalks crushing cafes).
Somehow everyone is just forgiving of all the wildness, unlike real life. *eye roll*
four bucks on Prime!