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Daisy Gamble, an unusual woman who hears phones before they ring, and does wonders with her flowers, wants to quit smoking to please her fiancé, Warren. She goes to a doctor of hypnosis to do it. But once she's under, her doctor finds out that she can regress into past lives and different personalities, and he finds himself falling in love with one of them. Written by
This is one of those films that one would like to praise without reservation, but, alas!, some elements are not quite up to the high level of some of its attributes.
Streisand, after that stunning title montage (Love those blooming flowers and the clever lyrics that coax them into the sunshine!) is a bit grating in her opening scenes as Daisy Gamble, though she mellows somewhat as the modern-day plot progresses. However she more than rises to the occasion when Melinda is exhumed and she gets to parade about in Cecil Beaton's absolutely stunning accoutrements. Montand, who seems to have learned his lines phonetically (A foreign accent can be charming but he seems to be exaggerating his!), is serviceable, sings on key, and manfully wades through the machinations of the scriptwriters, what with the absurd brouhaha over reincarnation among the university's powers-that-be and Dr. Chabot's stubborn reluctance to admit that Daisy has psychic powers, et cetera. John de Cuir does his usual eye-filling wonders with the production design, beautifully aided by Harry Stradling, Sr.'s use of the Panavision/Technicolor cameras. And, of course, Burton Lane's score has a few liltingly listenable songs that propel the story quite felicitously. And there's the bonus of two of my favorite actresses, Mabel Albertson and Irene Handl, to add some sly support. (And, one must reluctantly mention Jack Nicholson, youthfully handsome in his brief appearance here, now a gothic ruin of his former self...Must be all those ill-tempered characters he's since played, as well as the reported off-screen dissipation in the decades since.)
But Nelson Riddle, undeniably one of the all-time great arrangers for singers like Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, seems the wrong choice to orchestrate and conduct the musical elements. His work seems a little thin and not equal to the lush visual panoply. And, I suspect, Vincente Minnelli was hampered by the producer, Howard Koch, whose credits suggest a level of taste and achievement more oriented to audiences that preferred something less refined than what might have best suited this enterprise. The direction seems a bit diffuse, and even dispirited, and certainly not up to the standard of Minnelli's best in his halcyon days at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Nevertheless, I'll admit I enjoyed it when I saw it during its theatrical release, but beware of non-letterboxed video transfers. "Formatting" will reduce this one to considerably less than its makers intentions. If a DVD release comes along and you're a Streisand (or Minnelli) fan, it'll be worth the wait.
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