|Index||9 reviews in total|
HBO in the 1970s kindled my still vibrant love for movies in a powerful
way. Being able to view movies you never heard of or wouldn't have
ventured out to see even if you had gave this young guy a thorough
education of film.
SHEILA LEVINE IS DEAD AND LIVING IN NEW YORK left an indelible impression on me. I still - 27 years later-remember certain scenes, especially Sheila dancing with a broom to a song I think was called "Love Me or Love People" and her talk with Roy Scheider. Every review I've read of this film lambasted it and called it the death of Academy Award nominee Jeanne Berlin's(for THE HEARTBREAK KID) career. To this impressionable 12 year old Italian boy who was a sickly child. Ms. Berlins shattering, stammering performance is burned ion my head. She was as alien a creature to me as E.T. was and like that little rubber puppet made me feel sorry and commiserate with her plight of being an outcast so strongly that it inadvertently helped ms cope with my own problems. Its a great, full fledged performance. Its as if Jeanne Berlin's character of the pathetic wife in HEARTBREAK left to be on her own in the big city. This and HEARTBREAK KID should be watched in tandem to get the full effect of an incredible one two acting punch.
Of course my review here is based on feelings and I would love to watch it again through 39 year old eyes and review it again as a film rather than as a memory. I may than agree with the critics about its screenplay(which I remember as being thin) and its murky look(very dark cinematography) but will positively not budge on my perception on Ms. Berlins landmark performance. I would love to see it as a film and experience its charms all over again. Me and my broomstick are waiting. Hopefully Paramount will reunite me with a dear old friend.
Amazon Instant Video (a great resource for 70s film buffs)had this up for sale about 2 years ago. I purchased it immediately (sadly it-like vLOOKING FOR MR GOODBAR and LITTLE DARLINGS are no longer available)-and have it permanently in my pc. The Paramount transfer is good-and while I still do not think of this movie as the diisaster critics of the day thought-I do see its shortcomings. Roy Scheiders zombielike performance makes you wonder what Levine saw in him. Or was it the old "marry a doctor (or fill in blank)" scenario? His lackluster performance nearly kills the film more than Berlins (the critics interpretation-not mine). The song still stays with you-and upon hearing it for the first time in over 30 years-its everything about the song I remember. I was pleasantly surprised how nice the score in general was. The cinematography, the ratchety editing and the thin screenplay add to this films myth of being one of the worst of its year. I still am not of the critics thinking, and now that this film is part of my collection-I haven't seen THE LAST OF SHEILA-but thats for another review.
Adaptation of Gail Parent's celebrated novel about a quirky young woman who heads to New York City in search of a husband, but "finds herself instead" (as they say). Despite soupy production, bad editing and godawful music, Jeannie Berlin manages to shine as Sheila (she's utterly unpredictable and unconventional as a leading lady); Roy Scheider is also terrific in support as an eligible doctor (his spin-the-bottle monologue near the end is gorgeously done). Dated to be certain, but I got many laughs from sad-sack Sheila's predicaments. It's an offbeat, be-true-to-yourself serious-comedy, though hurt overall by a lack of restraint and a jerky narrative. **1/2 from ****
I haven't seen this movie in years but I remember it well and have been looking for it on video. So far no luck. Jeanie Berlin is so fabulous as Sheila. Of course if you are a New York single jewish woman (as I am) you would relate to her better, but she is just so perfectly "looser finds herself". The story is much different than that of the book but some of the character remain. But the movie is so 70's it's fun. And you can't help but fall in love with and root for Sheila. Someone out there get this to video!
Jeanne Berlin (daughter of Elaine May) is perfect in this movie! What a funny, brilliant woman! The movie reminds me of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. All women are not beautiful and rich. You go girl! Another wonderful aspect of this movie is an early role for Roy Scheider who plays her love interest. My favorite part is the main character's job at a children's recording studio, Wha Wha Records. Everyone does a rather mundane job until a musician needs "backup". All the employees jump up and become the chorus. Gail Parent is one of my favorite writers (remember Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman on TV?) and she develops wonderfully real women in her comedies. Great movie for then and now.
I have to agree with the other reviewers about the song in this film. It sticks in your head. I saw this film only once some 20 years ago and I have never forgotten it. I could not remember the name of it and I finally discovered it here. The parts I remember the most are the scenes with the song and the scene near the end when Roy Scheider has a monologue talking about a childhood party where he was rejected by a girl, a story he tells in an effort to win back the Sheila Levine. The movie has stayed with me all these years. Its one of many films from the 70s that you catch on a late Sunday night or lazy Sunday afternoon and you watch and realize you have seen a memorable film.
This is one of those under rated movies that really is a classic in
disguise. Like "Penny Serenade" or "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day."
Jeannie Berlin (as Sheila Levine) recites her lines in a stylized
Jewish manner, just as Frank Sinatra did in "Guys and Dolls" to create
that sense of identity that Damon Runyon intended for Nathan Detroit.
So too Jeannie is Jewish and the movie is not about 'female' but
Jewish. And all that female Jewish implies. Sheila, like George
Costanza, a nebbish and charming for all that.
She falls in love with Sam (played by Roy Scheider), the Doctor, who hates himself for performing an abortion. But Sam the Doctor has a wandering libido and is not ready to stop philandering.
Like so many picaresque novels and films that unfold over a period of time, various and sundry adventures and mishaps occur before the denouement. (Girl gets boy, girl loses boy, girl gets boy...) It is a quintessential New York story for those who like quintessential New York stories.
I didn't find Vince Canby's objections relevant; he seems to have missed the whole point of the movie as a Jewish story. If the viewer misses that, then an important part of the story is lost.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
For years I've wanted to see this movie despite (though maybe because
of) it's bad reputation, but it didn't seem to be available anywhere.
But it aired on TCM recently, and I finally got to see it.
After watching it, I can say it's not as bad as it's been made out to be... but all the same it doesn't work. The biggest problem with the movie is the character of Sheila Levine. It's frequently hard to get into the head of this woman. The movie seems to start at chapter two, not giving us an explanation as to why she decided to move to New York or what her ambitions are. Later in the movie, she all of a sudden is seen living elsewhere and with a new job. Huh? What happened? Further problems with the character include that she often comes across as dumb, which makes her unsympathetic. It doesn't help that Jeannie Berlin, who plays this character, has pretty much no charisma.
The script can't make up its mind as to whether the movie is a comedy or a drama. That by itself is not an instant problem, but the movie's level of humor is mostly lame, and the serious portions aren't that much better handled. With all these bad ingredients, it's no wonder director Sidney J. Furie can't do much, though he does manage to portray 1970s New York in an appropriately dingy and dirty look, which is how it was before it was cleaned up. And he does occasionally throw in extremely long takes without any edits, which are effective and must have been very hard to rehearse and set up.
I admit that I wasn't bored by what I saw despite the almost two hour running time, which in part does save the movie from being called one of the worst movies of the 1970s. But the movie just doesn't work as a genuine comedy, an unintentional comedy, or as a drama. You can safely skip it.
I saw this on television in the early eighties on late night television. Strange but interesting film. As noted in the synopsis on this page, the song "Love me, oh love me, baby won't you love me" stays with you FOREVER. It's the one thing I remember most about the movie, that and the scene where Roy tells Sheila about wetting his pants in gradeschool... Odd film.
This movie is funny in places, bitter in some, too. The song they play
and over) when she's at the party will stick in your head so far you'll
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