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This is one of the funniest comedies that Barbara Streisand ever made. To me this is an updated version of "I Love Lucy" only updated to fit the 1970's. Also, the assortment of mobsters, madames and underworld types makes this film even more funny. Also, Estelle Parsons role as Pete's bitchy sister in law is a scream. Too bad Henrietta didn't just pop her one.
There are those that say about this film that it is ridiculous and very forgetable. However, this is what I have to say about For Pete's Sake. The two movies that Barbra made that preceeded this one were The Way We Were and Up The Sandbox. Up The Sandbox, although billed as a comedy, was actually more of a drama-slash-comedy. And I think most of us know that The Way We Were was not a comedy. Therefore, as Barbra has stated, she wanted to just do something light and comical for her next film project. I think then, that she succeeded beautifully. Another thing, too, is that if you are going to start COMPARING this movie with What's Up, Doc?, then I really don't think that's fair. For Pete's Sake and What's Up, Doc are two totally different comedies. It's like this: What's Up, Doc? had an excellent supporting cast and all of the movie's characters centered around the one plotline. This is not so of For Pete's Sake. For Pete's Sake focuses on the story's ONE major character and that one character's plight throughout the movie. The supporting cast of For Pete's Sake is decent, but they do not really have much to do with the story. In What's Up, Doc?, four of the characters had identical suitcases that got mixed up. Not only the owners of the suitcases wanted them back, but so did many of the other characters in the movie! And the film centered around the plight of ALL of the characters and what they had to do with the identical suitcases. In For Pete's Sake, again...the story is about the one character, NOT MANY OF THEM, and that ONE character's plight, and stayed focused on that. So...therefore, I think it worked beautifully as awonderful "light" comedy. I will say this though: I think that the part of the movie that is about when Barbra was dealing with her johns in the callgirl operation she entered into, could have been written to include a lot more plot twists. You know, a lot more "zaniness". But, hey! It is what it is. I did get a great laugh in that scene where one of the johns come over and he's pretending that he's a TV repairman. Barbra does not know this and is already nervous enough as it is. After she lets him in he pulls out a screwdriver, and her eyes pop wide open and she exclaims..."What's that!!?" He explains to her..."It's a screwdriver". She exclaims, puzzled as hell..."For what???!" Her facial expressions are great. Then, I got an even bigger laugh in the scene where Barbra, in order to escape from a police dog that was chasing her, decends down into an open manhole. The next scene shows her with her head slowly creeping out of the manhole and she's all disorientated, her eyes adjusting to the light. She sees two construction workers sitting eating their lunch and shouts..."Hey! Where are we?" They tell her..."Fourth Avenue and Douglas Street". She nods to them thanks and proceeds to start climbing out of the manhole. Now of course, all dirty and messy. Once she's out, she's stumbling and bumbling along and one of the construction workers looks to the other and says, not knowing of course why she came out of a manhole, says..."Boy...what some people wanna do to save a subway fare!" I really thought that was quite hysterical! Again...this movie succeeds exactly as what it was made to be; a "light" slapstick comedy. If you ever get the chance, try to see this movie on DVD. Not only is the color and the sharpness of the picture absolutely incredible, but you can get a wonderful director's commentary from Peter Yates. For Pete's Sake is a great "light" slapstick comedy.
Barbra Streisand shines as a woman helping her husband (Michael Sarrazin) get through school, whatever it takes. What takes place is very funny because he has no idea what she does all day as he's working as a cab driver in New York City. She keeps all of her hilarious misdeeds from him, hoping to be able to make the money he needs for school. She'll do anything...all for Pete's sake. My rating: 8
Struggling financially, a young couple needs quick cash to invest in pork bellies, prompting the wife to concoct a series of wild schemes to raise the cash. This is basically a vehicle for Streisand to engage in some zaniness, trying to duplicate the success of "What's Up, Doc?" a couple of years earlier. Unlike the latter film, however, this one does not have a particularly inspired script. Babs tries hard, but is unable to raise the material beyond a level of mild amusement. To pay off loan sharks, she goes through a series of jobs, including prostitution (taken rather lightly), each meant to setup hilarious situations but the payoff isn't there.
Although I have been aware of this film for a long time, it was only
after watching its amusing theatrical trailer – on THE OWL AND THE
PUSSYCAT (1970) DVD – that I became eager to watch it. The end result
proved to be a patchy affair but, nevertheless, it does have its fair
share of belly-laughs and, in any case, watching Streisand in kooky
mode is always fun; Estelle Parsons and William Redfield are her hubby
(Michael Sarrazin)’s well-to-do and snobbish relatives who particularly
look down on Streisand.
It clearly emulates the screwball style of WHAT’S UP, DOC? (1972), parodies THE FRENCH CONNECTION (1971) – the underground station cat-and-mouse chase between Gene Hackman and Fernando Rey is performed here by a disguised Streisand and a persistent police dog! – and it also homages Buster Keaton’s GO WEST (1925) in the urban cow stampede sequence and Luis Bunuel’s BELLE DE JOUR (1967) in the role-playing encounters during Streisand’s disastrous stint as a call-girl! British action director Yates was surprisingly roped in for this, but he seems to have enjoyed the experience as his next project was on similarly zany lines – the black comedy MOTHER, JUGS AND SPEED (1976; which I’ll be watching presently).
Another notable sequence sees the heroine involved, unbeknownst to her, in terrorist activity (she’s asked to deliver a package in disguise to a similarly-dressed woman) – which eventually rebounds on her shady brother employers! Similarly, one of the best lines has Streisand’s nonchalant black maid (she hires a Hispanic woman to do her own cleaning-up!) who, admiring the former’s tenacity, tells her: “Girl, you could even sell a Confederate flag in Harlem!”
The first 30 minutes or so of "For Pete's Sake" are amusingly on-target: Brooklyn housewife Barbra Streisand drops her husband off at work on their motorcycle and then pops a wheelie; she proceeds to forge a battle of the bills with the grocery store cashier, the insurance company, the banker, and the telephone company exec (Anne Ramsey, pre-"Throw Momma From The Train"). All this time, Streisand is in terrific comedic form, her expressions more and more incredulous. A dinner with her husband's relatives is equally funny, but "Pete" starts to give out somewhere after this. Barbra can't pay back loan sharks and has to work as a prostitute, a bomb deliverer and a cattle rustler. This last job gives the movie its big slapstick scene, which was a groaner even in 1974. Clearly a rip-off of Streisand's "What's Up, Doc?", it features a stampede of cows down the Columbia backlot accompanied by some of the silliest "country" music I've ever heard. If the filmmakers had kept the movie on a grounded level--and kept Streisand as the perfect Everywoman--this might have been a dead-on satire of the ailing economy. As it is, it's passable fluff. **1/2 from ****
Barbra was 31 when she made this film. Her hair (a
poor short-haired wig) was done by her then boyfriend,
Jon Peters, and her outfits remind me of her "stoney end" phase (remember that?). This movie was released in 1974. Her co-star is 'ok' but he's no Brad Pitt. He does have one sexy bathtub scene. If you look quickly when he pulls Babs into the tub you'll see he is wearing a pair of white bikini briefs (poor editing, they should have cut that).
Now a little outdated (I'm writing this in the year 2000) the film is funny overall with some greater funny moments.
Barbra shows a real flair for comedy. I wish she had done more character acting in other films because in this one she dons a blond curly wig, big yellow hat and oval sunglasses then screams and runs like a little girl. She literally had me laughing uncontrollably several times.
The plot is sort of hokey: her husband's brother and pompous wife insinuate Babs (Henry) conned her husband into an early marriage which robbed him of a good college education and a decent job (he's a taxi driver). They get an inside stock tip on 'pork bellies' and she borrows $3,000 from the mob. The tip doesn't pay off at first and her contract is sold to more and more crooks - and with each sale she screws up her assignments. She goes to work for a little old lady (Mrs. Cherry) who sends men clients to her apartment and Babs accidently breaks the nose of her first client then nearly kills the second, a judge who is taxi'd to the N.Y. apt by her husband. This second client is hidden in a trunk and revived in the back of a flower delivery truck then placed back in the taxi when Henry's husband isn't looking.
The whole movie goes on like this - and she ends up in several funny situations, even unwittingly carrys a bomb (the wig, hat and glasses). She turns the package over to an undercover cop and is promptly arrested but runs away screaming through Central Park claiming he is a pervert (the cop is dressed in identical women's clothing)
Eventually her contract is sold to a cattle rustler who fills up a motor-home with stolen cattle for delivery in downtown N.Y. She has an accident and the one lone bull and all the cows get lose running through New York streets and into shops. By the end of the picture the stock tip pays off and they end up rich and happy.
If you like Barbra you'll like this movie. I say 'thumbs up'!
Bubbly Brooklyn housewife Barbra Streisand (as Henrietta "Henry"
Robbins) can't seem to make ends meet. Eating over her head, Ms.
Streisand must return food to grocery clerk Vincent Schiavelli, saying,
"You take the fruit loops, you'll love 'em!" She argues with Ma Bell
about a call to Yugoslavia, telling telephone lady Anne Ramsey to,
"Stick that in your computer!" And, Streisand has to pay sharp-tongued,
self-described "colored" maid Vivian Bonnell (as Loretta), who never
seems to do much of anything.
Streisand's attractive husband Michael Sarrazin (as Pete Robbins) works as a cab driver while taking college classes three nights a week. They have time for an active sex life, much to the dismay of acid-tongued Estelle Parsons (as Helen), wife of wealthy brother William Redfield (as Fred). Streisand decides to make extra money by buying stock in "pork bellies" - but, short on investment money, she borrows from a loan shark. Unable to pay her debt, Streisand is forced into prostitution and other unsavory activities.
Adequately done by director Peter Yates and the then top female "Box Office" star (since 1972) in the nation - but, Streisand's character seems neither to be prostitute material, nor someone who would be so inclined. There are easier ways for this ball of energy and charisma to make a buck in New York City. And, long stretches in this comedy feature nothing particularly funny. Streisand gets good support from Sarrazin (watch those hands on rear) and the above, plus elderly "Madame" Molly Picon (as Mrs. Cherry).
***** For Pete's Sake (6/26/74) Peter Yates ~ Barbra Streisand, Michael Sarrazin, Estelle Parsons, Molly Picon
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
FOLLOWING THE GREAT success, box office and critical acclaim of
Director Peter Bogdanovich's WHAT'S UP, DOC? (Warner Brothers/Saticoy
Productions, 1972), the World took notice of Miss Barbara Streisand,
not only as a singer, but also as a comedienne. Her teaming with Ryan
O'Neal, Madeline Kahn,Kenneth Mars, Sorrell and Austin Pendelton (among
others) under the auspices of Mr. Bogdanovich proved to be a game
NOT THAT THIS feature film of a couple of years later was quite on the same level, nor was it done in the same genre. Whereas WHAT'S UP, DOC? was true 'Screwball' in the 1930's sense, FOR PETE'S SAKE was more along the lines of situational, or 'Sit Com', as we would call it today.
THE STORY LINE, such as it is, concerns a rather contrived plot in which Pete Robbins(Sarrazin), Husband, drives a cab in order to support himself and Henrietta (Streisand), wife; while at the same time that he is attending college, seeking his sheepskin. The Mrs. is suddenly overcome with guilt and decides to help out by seeking fund$ to invest in the Commodities Market to purchase futures in Pork Bellies. (Do you get that, Schultz?)
AMONG THE SCAMSS that Henrietta (Henry for short) explored was that of prostitution. Great comic situations are created in scenes involving the 'Madame', Mrs. Cherry (Molly Picon).
OTHER LITTLE VIGNETTES of inspired comic interactions are fairly well distributed throughout the film. Our favourite is a parody and homage to the then recent film, THE FRENCH CONNECTION (D'Antoni/Schine-Moore/20th Century-Fox, 1971).,It involved Barbara, a very tenacious Police Dog/German Shepard and interplay with the opening and closing of subway train doors.
ONE OTHER QUALITY wort mentioning is that the movie is very New York specific; both in locale and feel. That makes for some 'attitude', eh Schultz?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Yes, I love the Marx Bros. but some of their movies are not top notch. Similarly, this is not one of Barbra's best. It's a Rube Goldberg of a movie: She borrows $3,000 from a loan shark, then $4,000 to pay him off, and her "contract" gets sold twice again so she owes $7,000 to an urban cattle rustler. Confused? Oh course you are! However, many of the situations are funny but should be hilarious. Molly Picon plays "Mother Cherry" the benevolent "Jewish" madam and is terrific. Streisand almost scares one of her "Johns" to death, but, thankfully, she never actually connects with any of them. So "Mother" sells her contract to two greasy, sleazy bomb-makers and she gets chased thru the subway by the smartest German Shepard Dog since Rin-Tin-Tin; after unwittingly delivering a "bomb" to a police undercover man. Several ludicrous comic situations and some pay off better than others. The best one involves stolen cattle. She is supposed to transport them in a Winnebago and of course they stampede out of the truck and end up in Brooklyn traffic and, yes, in a chandelier store. All "For Pete's Sake", so he can buy $3000 in pork belly futures on an inside tip, and make a fortune. Michael Sarrazin plays Pete, her taxi-driving, over-sexed, struggling husband. He and Babs chase each other around the apartment a lot. She appears to be bra-less most of the time. A very lightweight comedy with a good supporting cast. But I think that both the Brahma bull and the dog are funnier than Barbra. The incredibly impossible, unbelievable storyline is fun but not memorable.
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