I Saw A Film!
Jack Lemmon is a cute devoted CEO who gets news of his well respected father’s death of a car accident in Italy, where the old fella often took his lone holidays to recuperate. This alone a sweet kind of silly naivete popular in movies of the age, though perhaps waning at this stage of the seventies. The son is there to collect the remains, but all manner of silliness ensues. It’s a Billy Wilder film, and such always has a particular appeal. Lemmon’s no-nonsense character is very polite and upright but soon finds himself slightly upended by a sweet lady who happens to be the daughter of the surprise mistress also killed in the car accident.
The idea that this realization would take so long to accumulate is one of those movie cliches that seems designed, like the conceit of Three’s Company type homosexual stereotypes for humor, to appeal to a severely congested aspect of our lack of social progress, while seeming to dip toes into the attitudes and activities generally attributed to a younger generation. But the simple truth is that that younger generation attitude and activity are nowhere new in 1972 or even 1872 for that matter. People have always been people, have always had illicit lovers and have always strayed from established paths of righteous authority. Neither Lemmon nor Mills come across as particularly enlightened, though Mills does lead a skinny dipping sequence while sadly being convinced of her being overweight.
Will Lemmon’s CEO succumb to the sweetness Mills’s adorable gateway into a world of “debauchery”? Well, of course not, the film plays a silly game of revolving doors with the hotel rooms using nothing less than a grisly murder to generate the affair. And while we’re not meant to care much for the fellow gunned down, and in fact, find it a bit hilarious, the fact of the unnecessary gun play hurts our vision of sweet humor here and of course, as necessary motivation, also kills our hopes for mature relations.
Bits of this film feel a bit like The Grand Budapest Hotel of recent vintage. The devotion of the staff of the hotel as fixers of all issues is quite enjoyable. I’m not sure we get to have much of Italy. And we also won’t get much of a settlement for our expectations of these middle-aged folk grasping at understanding their elders who sought love. Instead, seated at the table their parents used, they discuss therapy and diets.
This is running free on Prime (USA) and a fine example of an attitude of entertainment almost a caricature of its own style.