"A Touch of Class" without the class...which is both pro and con
Norman Panama co-wrote and directed this silly bedroom comedy steeped in '70s clichés. Bickering couple, married ten years and separated for one, are reunited at the wife's sister's "contractual engagement" and soon decide to have a couples-contract drawn up for themselves. Panama, a veteran of film comedies who for years teamed with Melvin Frank (who later went on to big solo success with "A Touch of Class" in 1973), doesn't quite have it in him to be ballsy or outrageous, so he settles instead for sniggering-lite. This works out all right for the film's first half, which gives stars Elliott Gould and Diane Keaton a chance to play sort of an updated version of Rock Hudson and Doris Day (he's a skirt-chaser, she's sexually-repressed and maybe frigid). But the second-half, a screwball outing at a California sex clinic, drops a big bad bomb, turning our likable leads into arms-flailing ninnies. If the characters had stayed right where they were, this might have succeeded as a raunchy variation on "A Touch of Class". But Panama was obviously after big, slapstick-y laughs and cartoony embarrassments. His cast says "I Will, I Will" against their better judgment. ** from ****
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