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American Steve Blackburn, in the insurance business, is married with two kids. Vickie Allessio, a self described design "stealer" for a knockoff fashion house, is a recent divorcée with two kids. Steve and Vickie are running into each other more and more in their day to day lives in London before even knowing who the other is, which suits them both fine, as when they do finally officially meet, Steve is up front that he wants to have an affair with her, Steve who has had affairs in the past whenever his wife Gloria, who is from old money, isn't around which is currently the case as she is in the States visiting her parents. Vickie, in turn, is up front that she is amenable to a no-strings affair with him under specific circumstances, namely that it be at least a classy short term affair, meaning no cheap motels, and preferably a weekend away somewhere warm. Able to arrange a business trip to Málaga, Spain, for a week, Steve convinces Vickie to change their agreed weekend to a week and... Written by
Two Top Comedic Performances in Half a Hysterical Film
At times screamingly funny, at least during the first hour, "A Touch of Class" boasts two fine comedic actors in top form and a script that manages to hit more highs than lows. After a catchy title tune, George Segal and Glenda Jackson meet a few times by chance before on-the-prowl Segal, who boasts of never cheating on his wife in the same city, moves in for the pounce. However, the divorced Jackson, who needs some good uninvolved sex, agrees to a tryst if they can manage something better than a "quickie" in a one-star hotel with dirty sheets. From this point the screwball comedy antics pile on. A returning wife and in-laws complicate the arrangements for a week in Spain, and an unwelcome friend shows up for the same flight to Malaga. The laugh meter rises with a faulty clutch, a spastic back, and a sexual performance rating that is on par with a Christmas card from the butcher.
The comedy is in high form as the couple spar and parry towards consummating their relationship. Unfortunately, love enters the equation, and the unwelcome friend slows the merriment further with a serious turn about guilt. Although the pace picks up again when the couple returns to London, the damage has been done, and "A Touch of Class" fails to return to the hilarity of the first hour. Segal and Jackson are certainly not to blame for the sluggish mid section, and both performers deliver fine comedic performances that never go over the top for a laugh and retain a depth of character when the mood turns serious. The film belongs to the two stars, and they play well together. However, the supporting players in general fail to register with the exception of Eve Karpf as the slyly knowing Miss Ramos at Iberia Airlines.
Symptomatic of the movie's slowdown is a scene where Jackson and Segal watch "Brief Encounter" on the television in their love nest. The Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard classic is a heavy "weepie" drama, and both characters wring the handkerchiefs while they watch the film. Although the temptation to insert shots from another film about marital infidelity was obviously too strong to resist, the scene further dampens the film and pushes the characters into a soul-searching phase that leads to the inevitable fadeout. Perhaps if the lovers had watched "A Night at the Opera" or "Bringing Up Baby," viewers would have left the theater laughing instead of sullen like the weather in the final scene.
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