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Critic's Choice

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I'm surprised there wasn't a Critic's Choice thread already but I couldn't find it.  TCM ran it Sunday afternoon.

It's hard to figure what audience Warners was aiming for with this: an adaption of a Broadway play by Ira Levin (of "Rosemary's Baby" fame!!) that was not a huge success (on the boards simultaneous to "Wildcat").   The movie version is  part theatrical in-joke sophistication and low-brow comedy of the lowest order, unfunny to boot, the latter: all from Hope.   Combining both moods into one movie is a tall order, not impossible but rare. Parker Ballantine (Hope) is the protagonist and we're supposed to empathize with him, but he's DEAD WRONG and a real asshole.  He read Angie/Lucy's  play, hated it, attends the premiere mid-performance completely bombed (the low point of the movie) and then sobers up enough to write a play-closing review--without having seen the play, really.  


However, this is the last time we see Hope, the actor and he acquits himself quite well, but only when he's not schticking around  (If you don't believe me, watch "Boy Did I Get a Wrong Number" released 3 years after CC).  Though his character's high-ground morality is way off-base, Hope does a great job, particularly in the scene where he lectures son John about self-respect and later tells son John he's not going to review opening after all, integrity be damned (again Parker's principals are all ass-holistic bullshit.) To make sure Angie/Lucy's evening is spoiled, he's "not even going to go to the opening".  What a jerk!


Unfortunately that scene is followed immediately by Parker completely bombed in a bar.  Not only is this scene badly directed with annoying comedic musical underscoring, Hope's drunk act is strictly pedestrian.  Physical comedy was not his forte.  This is followed by an even worse scene where he stumbles into the theater, so drunk he's barely able to stand.  


All of Hope's low-comedy moments bring the movie down a peg.   And it's really Hope's movie. One could argue that in 1963, Lucy was the more popular performer.   On Broadway, Hope's character was played by Henry Fonda.  Lucy's role Angela Ballentine was played by someone named Georgann Johnson.  It's really a supporting role, but Lucy's charming character-driven performance saves the movie from being a total misfire..  It shines only when Lucy's on-screen, but Hope's solo scenes take up the bulk of the movie's 100 minutes.  She looks fantastic.   Lucy succeeds despite being given virtually no comedy to work with. The script is marred by the usual additional one-liners obviously supplied by Hope's gag writers.   Movie theater-goers probably expected something broader, given both performers were still at their popularity peak, as LOL comedians.   Still the movie did $1.2M at the box office, less than spectacular, but not the BO bomb I always thought it was.   

I have a poster for the Italian release entitled "Mia Moglie Si Prova" (Can someone translate?)

Neither Hope or Lucy thought much of the movie.  Lucy "We made 4 pictures, 3 goodies, one baddie". 



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I only saw this film once, though I do have the DVD. I'm unlikely to watch it again anytime soon, as all I remember was how unmemorable it was. I do recall it being a chore to sit through all the way until the end.


For me, the most enjoyable thing to come out of the film were Lucy and Bob matching bloopers on TV, the footage of which was included in one of the Goodtimes documentaries.


BOB: "Your my husband...I mean I'M your husband!"

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