Satire on the funeral business, in which a young British poet goes to work at a Hollywood cemetery.

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Storyline

Newly arrived in Hollywood from England, Dennis Barlow finds he has to arrange his uncle's interment at the highly-organised and very profitable Whispering Glades funeral parlour. His fancy is caught by one of their cosmeticians, Aimee Thanatogenos. But he has three problems - the strict rules of owner Blessed Reverand Glenworthy, the rivalry of embalmer Mr Joyboy, and the shame of now working himself at The Happy Hunting Ground pets' memorial home. Written by Jeremy Perkins <jwp@aber.ac.uk>

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From The Man Who Made "Tom Jones"! See more »

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Comedy

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11 October 1965 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Los seres queridos  »

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(RCA Sound System)

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1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Tony Richardson had considered Elizabeth Taylor for Aimee, with Richard Burton co-starring. See more »

Goofs

Henry's voice says "Will", whereas his mouth appears to say "Jack". See more »

Quotes

Rev. Wilbur Glenworthy: There's got to be a way to get those stiffs off my property.
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Connections

References Lassie (1954) See more »

Soundtracks

Pomp and Circumstance
By Edward Elgar
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User Reviews

 
Uneven Satire
20 June 2000 | by (Pittsburgh, PA) – See all my reviews

Really looked forward to seeing this based on the cast and some of the comments posted on this very site - but it was quite a disappointment. Obviously, it's trying to be another Super Bowl-scaled, stinging satire along the lines of "Doctor Strangelove", but it's a mostly indifferent misfire - and by no means terribly funny. (And why is it that with EVERY comedy, somebody will ALWAYS proclaim it's the "funniest movie ever made!"? The truth is, the overwhelming majority of motion picture comedies are at best moderately funny, or sporadically amusing. The "There's Something about Mary's" are few and far between.)

Gets off to a promising start, mostly thanks to the breezily superb performance of John Gielgud as an artistic, contented has-been blissfully employed by some second rate movie studio. The film's best sequence is when he reports for work one morning, walks into his office, finds some stranger in there practicing his golf putting, apologizes happily, then goes and mentions this rather curious development to his slob of a boss, played by Roddy McDowall. He can't for the life of him understand that he's been let go after 31 years, and when it finally does sink in, the look on Gielgud's face as he turns to give the building a grim, parting glance is the overlooked soul of what could have been a much better film.

Good work is also turned in by Anjanette Comer as an innocent enveloped by an L.A. culture of everything as shallow Show Biz (even death); Robert Morley as the penultimate stuffy Englishman (Ambrose Ambercrombie - great name); Paul Williams (!) and Liberace (!!!!!). They make significant, clever contributions, but once Gielgud is off screen (after 20 minutes) the movie self-destructs. Initially, the scenes at the monstrously over-sized, multi-themed funeral home show some wit and imagination, but it soon grows tiresome, as if the film-makers thought that the setting and concept were "brilliant" enough to offset a static narrative (they're not).

And Robert Morse, the lead, is the weakest link of all. He's supposed to anchor the film, but he's a strangely charmless, hollow actor whose only talent seems to have been a sort of obnoxious flippancy. He's a lot like Chris Elliott in that he's never able to find the humanity in the comedy, the way the best comedic actors are able to do. You just don't CARE about his plight, because he doesn't seem to CARE about anything. And perhaps it was intentional, but his British accent is incredibly feeble.

Many of the other big names in the cast are wasted. I mean, why bring Dana Andrews and Milton Berle on board if you are not going to give them anything to do? Jonathan Winters, in dual roles, is okay, but he doesn't project the menace or mystery necessary to play the evil cult leader. Rod Steiger? He tries, but his character isn't nearly as pivotal as he should have been. His Doctor Joyboy is the sort of Frankenstein creation that should have swallowed up the rest of the movie, but it never happens.

Ultimately, the most intriguing themes and relationships are left unexplored and too much screen time is devoted to silly cameos and purposeless dialogue. In fact, it all leads up to a ho-hum ending that is the cinematic equivalent of a shrug.


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