In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_large_nqau8oyqozqla1fhyl0htrfn4yf

Stray Dogs

Tsai Ming-Liang's first feature in five years is a mysterious and alienating series of tableaus about the fragility of flesh and the smallness of humanity.

Thumb_large_p0p30eibxwqhtqqduqowxyadl6f

The Skeleton Twins

This movie asks a lot of Wiig and Hader. It asks them to navigate territory that’s both funny and dramatic, light and raw, goofy and…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives

Stray Dogs

Tsai Ming-Liang's first feature in five years is a mysterious and alienating series of tableaus about the fragility of flesh and the smallness of humanity.

Other Articles
Blog Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Reviews

How to Save A Marriage and Ruin Your Life

  |  

Here is a comedy made with great goodwill, but it seems old-fashioned. Perhaps films like "The Graduate" have influenced our requirements for comedy. It is no longer enough to be amused. We also want to be grabbed by comedy in the same way drama does. We want to be forced to react, to laugh at ourselves occasionally. 

"How to Save a Marriage and Ruin Your Life" avoids operating on these interesting levels. It's a comedy of the 1940s and 1950s sort, produced by a master of that older style, Stanley Shapiro, whose big hit was "Pillow Talk" (1959). Like that one, it has two main ingredients. First, there's got to be a mildly daring social issue to tickle the audience, but not too much. This time, it's whether mistresses should have legal rights like wives. So Dean Martin tries to save his buddy (Eli Wallach) from an unfaithful mistress (Anne Jackson). But he gets his signals crossed and thinks Wallach's mistress is Stella Stevens. By the time he realizes his mistake, he's stuck with the wrong mistress. 

This leads to the second ingredient, some gimmick to keep the various couples from ever actually going to bed. Most Doris Day comedies are based on the Principle of the Indefinitely Postponed Consummation, and so is this one although the unlucky victim is now Miss Stevens. You'll never guess how she becomes Dean Martin's mistress without ever arriving in the bedroom so I'll tell you: She goes on strike. That's right. For higher wages and better working conditions. 

There are some funny scenes between the gifted Wallach and the equally funny Anne Jackson. Martin buckles down to work (after sleepwalking through "The Ambushers") and exercises considerable charm. Miss Stevens demonstrates that she is a sexy comedienne and not a funny sex symbol, and that's a relief. But the plot is difficult to swallow since everyone has to stand around talking in order to confuse identities and develop misunderstandings. George Bernard Shaw, who delighted in those long parlor scenes where everybody talks in riddles, would have liked "How to Save a Marriage, etc." But it won't please graduates of "The Graduate."

Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

There's Something About "Blade Runner"

A new look at the role of hero and villain in Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner."

The Unloved, Part Ten: "The Village"

Part ten in Scout Tafoya's The Unloved series tackles "The Village."

The strength of Robin Williams

An appreciation of the actor's perseverance through age 63 despite depression.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus