Saturday, September 07, 2013


1967 was right smack in the middle of a boom time for two movie genres: the anthology movie featuring several related but separate stories in one film (BLACK SABBATH, BOCCACCIO ’70, THE DECAMERON) and the sex farce (KISS ME STUPID, GUIDE FOR THE MARRIED MAN, BOB AND CAROL AND TED AND ALICE). This movie, set in and filmed on location in Paris, combines both, with the added gimmick of having one woman, Shirley MacLaine, appear as the sexy star in all seven of the stories. As with most anthology films, this is a mixed bag. The first story plays like a Laugh-In skit as a man (Peter Sellers) flirts with a widow during her husband's funeral.  Next, as "Teresa," MacLaine finds her husband in bed with another woman and gets advice that night from a group of hookers. In the final story, MacLaine is "Jeanne," a married woman flattered to be followed through the streets all day by a handsome young man (Michael Caine) who, we discover, has a different motive for his actions than she thinks.

Most of the individual stories run about 15 minutes, and some feel padded even at that length. One story, "Eve," about female jealousy over clothes, is silly and irritating. As "Edith," MacLaine, whose husband (Lex Barker, above right with MacLaine) is a novelist, becomes jealous of his latest female creation and goes a bit nutty trying to get his attention focused back on her. MacLaine is fun is this bit, but it does go on too long. Even the most interesting (and sexy) story, in which MacLaine plays "Linda," feels too long: Linda is a translator at a scientific conference; though she seems a little stodgy, she attracts the attention of two men, a young Scotsman (Clinton Greyn) and a slightly older Italian (Vittorio Gassman), both of whom she invites back to her apartment that night for drinks and readings from T.S. Eliot—she has a thing about the mind/body split and implies that her current boyfriend, who is out of town, isn't completely satisfactory to her. I assumed this bit would be one long tease to a cop-out ending, but actually, the story ends with her deciding to try a ménage à trois with the men. Greyn and Gassman (pictured with MacLaine) do well with underwritten characters, as does Alan Arkin in a story about a suicide pact gone awry. Other stars include Anita Ekberg, Rosanno Brazzi, and Robert Morley, but aside from MacLaine, no one else gets much of a chance to shine. Still, MacLaine is good and, even though the sex farce aspects date the movie a bit, it's not difficult to sit through. [DVD]

No comments: