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|Index||20 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What could have been several episodes of "Love American Style" rolled into one, this lovely romantic comedy turns out to be a delightful surprise. Mike (Michael Brandon) and Susan (Bonnie Bedelia) are roommates and lovers, engaged to be married. It is right before the wedding, and Mike has second thoughts. Their families are excited about the event but dealing with issues of their own. The mamas are soon-to-be TV stars Beatrice Arthur and Cloris Leachman, whose characters of Maude and Phyllis on their perspective shows would go down in TV comedy history. Susan's sister Wilma (Anne Meara) is having sexual control issues with her husband Johnny (Harry Guardino) who insists on being in control in the marriage. It's obvious from the get-go that this would never sit well with the brassy Wilma. The bride's parents Hal (Gig Young) and Bernice (Cloris Leachman) have a marriage that is best described as boring, because Bernice simply is content being the perfect wife, mother and socialite. He has begun an affair with Bernice's sister Kathy (Anne Jackson), but seems to have no intention of leaving Bernice. Mike's family is equally as wacky. We learn from Bea Arthur's matriarch (also named Bea) that it doesn't pay to be happy in a marriage. That only brings on misery. In fact, she and her husband Frank (Richard Castellano) are more content with their arguing than on settling on just "happy". Their older son Richie (Joseph Hindy) has separated from his wife Joan (newcomer Diane Keaton) which displeases his parents very much, as they are extremely "devoted" Catholics. Add on a playboy best man and a virginal bridesmaid, and you have as much soap opera that a 100 minute movie can have, yet it's all very funny. Talk about "As the Stomach Turns!" The cast is simply outstanding, yet it is the humour and tenderness of each of the story lines that really makes the film work. The philosophy of the older couples isn't preachy, and gives a statement that the passage of time doesn't change marriages-people and society do. Fans of TV veterans Leachman and Arthur will tune in to see them together, but they don't exchange any dialogue, only their husbands in a reception dance scene. Leachman has little to do as the perfect wife and mother unaware of what her husband and sister are doing, but Arthur steals every scene she is in, playing an Italian matriarch that seems like a pre-cursor of her own "Golden Girls" Sicilian mama, Sophia Petrillo. Meara is totally on fire in her role, although it seems a bit ridiculous that she would be Leachman's daughter, as she is only 3 years younger than her! The Oscar winning "For All We Know" plays beautifully over the wedding, and later became a hit for Karen Carpenter. It is certainly one of the most deserving songs to ever take home the gold statue. Be sure to stay through the closing credits.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Set against the advent of a fancy wedding, this comedy examines the many aspects of late sixties/early seventies love relationships amongst the wedding party and guests. Brandon and Bedelia play the bride and groom. They've been living together for a year, unknown to their parents, and barely see any reason to make it legal, apart from the fact that it's expected of them. Young and Leachman are Bedelia's affluent parents. Young, though he cares about Leachman, has been carrying on a decade-long affair with her best friend Jackson. Brandon's middle-class Italian parents are played by Castellano and Arthur. They seem to have stayed together out of duty and religion rather than love, yet have attained a level of comfort between themselves. Brandon's brother Hindy is on the verge of divorcing his wife Keaton. Bedelia's sister Meara is having sexual issues with her macho husband Guardino. Finally, Brandon's friend Dishy is embarking on a relationship with Bedelia's friend Hailey. These thirteen lives are examined in vignettes before, during and after the wedding, often with comedic results, but occasionally with poignant ones. Though many of the attitudes and situations may appear dated now, it's still a pretty intriguing time capsule of what different thought processes went in to the various relationship situations of the day, a time when women's lib and the sexual revolution were hot-button topics. Also, many of the observations regarding love between men and women are relevant now, despite the presence of such patently tacky clothes, furnishings and wallpaper. Arthur plays a type of role far different from the more assertive and brusque ones often associated with her and she plays it well. Comparatively monosyllabic Castellano is a good counterpoint to her and winds of providing the most touching moment in the film when he attempts to explain his wedding gift to Brandon. Young, hot off his Oscar win for "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?", does a nice job wrangling Jackson, whose character is often in a state of hysterics over their rather doomed affair. Meara enjoys one of her most substantial film roles and crafts a three-dimensional character despite having to shoulder the burden of some topical gender issue repartee with Guardino's closed-minded character. In a bizarre casting decision, Meara's mother is played by Leachman, even though Leachman is only 3 years older than Meara! (Leachman is given very little to do in the film, but does look nice.) Keaton, in her debut, is almost able to open her eyes, which are weighted down with heavy false eyelashes. She does a nice job, but doesn't suggest the significant career that was around the bend for her. As the newlyweds, Brandon and Bedelia are both immensely appealing. She is the better known, thanks to a latter day spate of roles in some high-powered films featuring Bruce Willis and Harrison Ford, but he was able to maintain a long, if more subdued career as well. It's a colorful, at times insightful, often amusing look at the many facets of love, dating and marriage at the time and features a great cast. It seems surely to have provided some degree of inspiration for Robert Altman's "A Wedding", though the latter film is more cynical and more heavily focused on the matrimonial ceremony itself.
Lovers and Other Strangers (1970) Dir: Cy Howard Diane's first feature film and it's a hit! A classic early '70s comedy concerning the events leading up to and including the traditional family wedding. Diane has a small part but makes the most of it. The Carpenters' title single figures prominently in the movie and became an instant real life wedding fixture. Screenplay by sometime acting husband and wife duo Joseph Bologna and Rene Taylor (of The Nanny fame).
A big, bright cast including Gig Young, Beatrice Arthur, Cloris Leachman and Diane Keaton (in her debut) can't quite make this lackluster comedy worth seeing. A critical success at the time, the film, about two young lovers prepping their respective families for their upcoming wedding, is full of sub-plots that don't play, fall flat, or are gratingly unfunny. It begins promisingly but soon comes undone, and Cy Howard's direction is like that of a traffic cop. Arthur has the funniest moments as the all-knowing mother of the groom, and Keaton is very attractive. Oscar winner for its lovely theme song, "For All We Know". *1/2 from ****
This movie has a first rate cast like Bea Arthur who plays Italian matriarch, Bea Vecchio. Her Italian husband is played by Richard Castellano right before he filmed Godfather. The rest of the cast includes Bonnie Bedelia who plays Susan, the bride to be, and Michael Brandon who played Mike Vecchio as the nervous groom. His brother's wife is played by Diane Keaton in her first film appearance ever as Joan Vecchio. Anne Meara has a part as Wilma, a woman who seeks equality in her marriage to Johnny, a mama's boy. Then there is Hal (played by Oscar Winner Gig Young) as father of the bride and his wife, Bernice (played by Oscar Winner Cloris Leachman) and her best friend, Kathy (played by Anne Jackson). Even Conrad Bain and Jerry Stiller have a small appearance in the film, the film was written originally as a play by real-life couple Renee Taylor and Joseph Bologna. I would have loved to have seen them on screen as well. Anyway, the couples trade usual barbs about men and women and relationships. The film might be a little dated since it might offend some people but it was set in 1970 New York City. My other complaint is the lack of use of Cloris Leachman in the film. She wasn't used enough as mother of the bride which was a shame because she's an excellent actress. Anyway, the film is worth watching for 70s nostalgia and a look at how relationships haven't changed much since then. Bea Arthur steals the film away in my opinion as the interfering, loving Italian Catholic mother and wife.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Since I first saw this in 1970, it has been one of my favorite movies.
The fine script by Joseph Bologna and Renée Taylor reminds me more than
a little of the work of Preston Sturges: crisp, witty, clear-eyed, and
very much to the point. The film offers an intelligent and critical,
yet affectionate, image of US marriage during a period of rapidly
changing mores, when the recent invention of the pill had made sex,
both casual and committed, less daunting to middle class Americans than
it used to be.
The film looks at three marriages and one relationship that would have been regarded as improper (at that time, at least) but that is about to be sanctified by marriage. Particularly good are the exchanges between Beatrice Arthur, who is quite wonderful in her role as an Italian Catholic mother, and her husband Richard Castellano, and their older son, who informs his distressed parents that he and his wife (played by Diane Keaton in her screen debut) want a divorce just as his younger brother, played by Michael Brandon, is about to marry an Irish Catholic girl, played by Bonnie Bedelia, fresh from her role in "They Shoot Horses, Don't They." Their assurances to their older son that happiness should not be expected from marriage, and that "too much happiness will only make you miserable," are delivered in a thoroughly believable way.
A determination to stick with what you're stuck with, reinforced by a generous dose of hypocrisy, seems especially to the older generation to be essential. Will Brandon and Bedelia find a different way of doing things? The writers and director do not commit themselves; viewers will form their own conclusions.
In addition to those mentioned, Gig Young, Cloris Leachman, Anne Jackson, Joseph Hindy, Bob Dishy, and Marian Hailey all perform very ably. This is an excellent film that has never received the credit it deserves.
Anything from New York is a true gem. "Lovers and other Strangers" is a comedy farce that takes you to the lives of lovers in different places. Here you have a couple who are about to get married, and there's a couple whose marriage is on the rocks. One couple is in new romance, the other is heading towards divorce because of communication problems. Then you have a bachelor who is totally luckless in love until he meets a cousin of the soon-to-be married couple who is indeed book smart, but doesn't follow what that person says, because she thinks it's misleading. The cast of the characters are well put: Beatrice Arthur, Harry Guardino, Richard Castellano, Anne Meara, Bonnie Bedelia, Cloris Leachman, and several others makes this movie a moment that will never be forgotten. The scenes I've seen are truly amazing, and the storyline is unforgettable. This one movie I think is a real keeper. I would also say, this is for New Yorkers only too. Rating 4 out of 5 stars.
"Lovers & Other Strangers" was a big hit back in the day and much of it still works. An outstanding ensemble cast was gathered and they made the best of the material. Gig Young, Beatrice Arthur, and Richard Castellano are especially deserving of critical praise. The best scene would have to be the wedding itself between Michael Brandon and a very young Bonnie Bedilia, which the theme is especially poignant. More great scenes are when Michael Brandon's parents tell their older son and daughter in law (Diane Keaton & Joseph Hindy) about their secret marital problems and how they coped with them. Other parts of the film don't work well, in spite its good actors. The martial problems of Anne Meara and Harry Guardino are believable at first, but then go over the top. The set-up date between the usher and bridesmaid is mostly exasperating. Anne Jackson is stuck with a completely one-note role, where her character is constantly crying about something. This film is overrated and dated, but it works more often than it doesn't.
This is wedding movie that is less about the actual couple than it is
everyone around them. So many characters are at turning points in their
lives that it's difficult to keep all the story lines straight. Many of
the characters are unsympathetic, but that is not necessarily a bad
thing, as the movie would be dreadful if they were all nicey-nice.
At the same time, unsympathetic doesn't have to be as annoying as Anne Meara's character, who is sympathetic at firs but then turns shrewish as she spits out some homophobic dialogue about her husband's manhood. (For this, I have deducted a full point in my rating, because even back then writers Joseph Bologna and Renee Taylor should have known better.) Diane Keaton fares better in her brief screen time (her character is discussed more than seen for much of the film), looking much different (and quite fabulous) but one can tell it's definitely her once she begins speaking with other characters.
The film definitely deals with relationship/marital issues that are still relevant today, and I liked the way the stories were wrapped up at the end. For that reason, I say this film is still a worth see, though maybe no longer a "must see." (Although I'm sure Golden Girls fans will consider it a must to see a post-Broadway but pre-Maude Bea Arthur.)
I watched this movie yesterday and it's not that great.
Based on a stage play, It can never get away from those stagey origins, and most of the scenes are just a couple of people sitting around talking. If it weren't for the song (NOT sung in the movie by the Carpenters, by the way) this film would be forgotten, even allowing for the many big names who star in it.
As a period piece from the mid-60s it is vaguely interesting...too bad it was made in 1970, when Hollywood still thought that people talking about sex was daring.
There was one good bit, though, and that was when a very young Diane Keaton is talking to Bea Arthur. Bea mentions the Bing Crosby-Ingrid Bergman film "The Bells Of St. Mary's", which Diane hadn't seen.
But she does get to see it, of course, because that is the movie she is coming out of with Al Pacino in "The Godfather" when they read that Don Corleone has been shot.
Skip it, or watch it on fast-forward.
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