Arthur is a happy drunk with no pretensions at any ambition. He is also the heir to a vast fortune which he is told will only be his if he marries Susan. He does not love Susan, but she ... See full summary »
Arthur is a happy drunk with no pretensions at any ambition. He is also the heir to a vast fortune which he is told will only be his if he marries Susan. He does not love Susan, but she will make something of him the family expects. Arthur proposes but then meets a girl with no money who he could easily fall in love with. Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Still a Charmer a Quarter Century Later Especially for the Well-Missed Talents of Moore and Gielgud
This 1981 comedy still sparkles thanks to the combined efforts of writer/director Steve Gordon and stars Dudley Moore and John Gielgud. Sadly, Gordon, only in his early forties, died soon after completing this, his only feature film. It's an especially unfortunate loss since he shows a truly deft hand at character-driven farce that makes the whole film irresistible. It plays almost like a 1930's-style screwball comedy revamped for contemporary tastes. The plot centers on Arthur Bach, a drunken, diminutive millionaire playboy who is at risk of losing his $750 million inheritance if he doesn't marry the dowdy and boring Susan Johnson, an heiress handpicked by his old-money father and dotty grandmother. Of course, he doesn't love her and by chance, runs into Linda Marolla, a working-class waitress (and of course, aspiring actress) after she pilfers a Bergdorf Goodman tie for her father.
The standard complications ensue but in a most endearing way with loads of alcohol-fueled slapstick executed with classic élan by Moore. That he makes such a spoiled character likable is a credit not only to his comic talents but to Gielgud's feisty, acidic turn as Hobson, Arthur's devoted but reality-grounded valet. It's the type of role he could play in his sleep, but Gielgud makes Hobson such a truly memorable character that his fate in the film brings a welcome injection of poignancy in the proceedings. In probably her most likable film role, Liza Minnelli hands the picture to her male co-stars by toning down her usual razzle-dazzle personality and making Linda quite genuine in motivation.
A pre-"LA Law" Jill Eikenberry plays Susan just at the right passive-aggressive note, while Barney Martin (Jerry's dad on "Seinfeld") steals all his scenes as Linda's slovenly father Ralph. The one fly in the ointment is veteran actress Geraldine Fitzgerald, who overdoes the eccentricities of the grandmother. And I have to admit that I still can't stand the very dated, overplayed Christopher Cross song that inevitably won the Oscar for that year's best song. Unfortunately, the 1997 DVD, certainly in need of remastering, has no extras worth noting except some photos and production notes.
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