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"30 Is A Dangerous Age, Cynthia" shares a producer (Walter Shenson) with the Beatles' "Help!" and runs along the same lines as well - the flimsy so-called plot is merely an excuse for endless musical segments, fantasy sequences and comic gags. It's very clear from the beginning how things are going to turn out for our hero (Dudley Moore as Rupert Street), and even moments of worry or conflict for the characters pass very quickly or are made humorous. Several chances for drama are wasted - much like Rupert's own musical, you could imagine that this movie began life with some thought and delicacy that was discarded in favour of more harmless frolic. Well, it's undeniably full of that, with its swinging 60's colour, fun and music. The detective who fancies himself an American-style "private dick" with appropriate voiceovers is very funny, as is Eddie Foy Jr. as Oscar, Rupert's endlessly scheming agent. Those who are looking for something along the lines of "Bedazzled" (ie. the Moore/Cook version, a personal favourite of mine) will likely be disappointed with the fluffy non-plot and lack of anything resembling drama (not to mention the absence of Peter Cook's witty scripting). However, this really is a must-see for Dudley Moore fans - the imaginary bits display him in a vast array of costumed guises, and he performs several of his self-penned songs in their entirety. If you're just looking for a bit of "Help!"-style silly fun, you'll enjoy this one.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In 1979, Dudley Moore starred in '10', written and directed by Blake
Edwards, about the angst of a man approaching forty. It was hugely
successful and made him a star.
But a decade earlier, he had starred in and co-written ( with Joe McGrath and the late John Wells ) '30 Is A Dangerous Age Cynthia', about the angst of a man approaching thirty. Nightclub pianist Rupert Street dreams of being both married and a successful composer. Rather improbably, his dreams begin to come true almost simultaneously. Firstly, he meets and falls for the stunningly beautiful teacher Louise Hammond ( Suzy Kendall ). Secondly, some shady theatrical types - among them Jonathan Routh of 'Candid Camera' fame - commission him to write a new West End musical!
In search of inspiration, Rupert and his friend Oscar travel to Ireland where from the lips of a dying man they hear the incredible tale of 'The Golden Legend Of Erin'. It begins with the words: 'long, long ago, when there were still snakes in Ireland...!'. Rupert uses the story as the basis for his show.
But, on returning to London, he finds his beloved Louise has grown impatient with waiting for him and moved out of Mrs.Woolley's boarding house. Desperate to find and marry her before his 30th birthday, Rupert hires private eye Herbert Greenslade ( the brilliant John Bird )...
The first thing to be said about this film is that its no 'Bedazzled'. Dud may have been a better actor than Pete, but could not hold a candle to him when it came to writing. Allegedly a fair amount of autobiographical material went into the script. Dud originally wanted the film to centre on Rupert's music, his marriage was only included at the request of the producer, wishing to give the plot a romantic angle.
No-one liked it when it came out - audiences were not used to seeing Dud without Pete. As well as being a Swinging Sixties romantic comedy, it also attacked the cult of celebrity ( as it looked in 1968 ).
Producer Walter Shenson had just made two films with The Beatles, and wanted something in a similar vein. Joe McGrath had worked with Moore on the 'Not Only But Also' television series, and was the first director on the madcap 'Casino Royale' spoof.
To tie-in with its release in the U.K., Panther Books brought out a strange novelisation by 'brilliant American humorist' ( as it says on the inside cover ) Stanley Reynolds. I say strange because it seems to bear little resemblance to the script on which its based!
Moore here proved he could carry a film without Peter Cook, and the wonderful supporting cast includes Eddie Foy Jr., Patricia Routledge, John Bird and ( in his last movie ) Duncan Macrae. Suzy Kendall ( then Mrs.Moore ) looks incredible in her '60's dolly-bird gear!
Its flawed of course; Joe McGrath smothers the flimsy storyline with overdone 'Billy Liar' style fantasy sequences such as the stock car race and Beethoven spoof. Some of the musical numbers ( 'The Real Stuff' anyone? ) are horrid. Its hard not to think: 'ego trip'. But as ego trips go, its an engaging one, non-malicious, charming, and full of gentle nostalgia for Swinging London. Even if it wasn't like that, who cares? They don't make 'em like this anymore.
A must for Dudley Moore fans.
"30 Is a Dangerous Age, Cynthia" could never be lumped in with Richard Lester's irreverent (i.e., disrespectful) comedies of the 1960s, nor the Monty Python movies which came into vogue a few years later. It's too enamored with American nostalgia...and is too eager-to-please to make its mark as a swinging comedy with an edge (such as 1967's "Bedazzled"). Dudley Moore plays 29-year-old British composer who hopes to be married by his 30th birthday (the age when a man is supposed to have his life together); he has his eye on a pretty lodger (named Louise!), but is also consumed by work while writing his first theatrical musical. Moore, who also co-wrote the screenplay with director Joseph McGrath and John Wells, seems to be having a high time here, though he relies too often on exaggerated facial expressions for laughs. McGrath eschews the popular mod trappings of the day for a more old-fashioned visual approach, including Walter Mitty-like daydreams, which is fine for the first three-quarters of an hour; after that, the gags get pushy and desperate, while the Bogart-spoof late in the proceedings is a complete miscalculation. Some spirit and style on a minor scale, and the score (also by Moore) is excellent. ** from ****
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