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"They All Laughed" is one of those little movies I am always recommending to friends seeking something out of the ordinary. It is firmly rooted in the screwball romance traditions of the past, but seems more contemporary. Even the decidedly early 80s atmosphere doesn't date it too much. Bogdanovich wisely keeps the whole enterprise so light on its feet, that reality never brings it crashing down to earth. But, that said, this sort of sweet little movie absolutely relies on the actors to keep it going, and "TAL" is blessed with a dream cast who understand the requirements of this sort of tale. It is a movie that wouldn't linger so long in the memory if it weren't for the little moments provided by the excellent cast: Colleen Camp's simultaneously shouting orders at John Ritter and her dog; Blaine Novak unleashing all that hair from under his hat; and especially the moment Dorothy Stratten falls for John Ritter and says, "How...weird." It's such a piece of fluff one doesn't want to lay too much on it for fear of crushing it, but it is certainly does leave one with a light heart and a smile on one's face.
Who are these "They"- the actors? the filmmakers? Certainly couldn't be
the audience- this is among the most air-puffed productions in
existence. It's the kind of movie that looks like it was a lot of fun
to shoot TOO much fun, nobody is getting any actual work done, and
that almost always makes for a movie that's no fun to watch.
Ritter dons glasses so as to hammer home his character's status as a sort of doppleganger of the bespectacled Bogdanovich; the scenes with the breezy Ms. Stratten are sweet, but have an embarrassing, look-guys-I'm-dating-the-prom-queen feel to them. Ben Gazzara sports his usual cat's-got-canary grin in a futile attempt to elevate the meager plot, which requires him to pursue Audrey Hepburn with all the interest of a narcoleptic at an insomnia clinic. In the meantime, the budding couple's respective children (nepotism alert: Bogdanovich's daughters) spew cute and pick up some fairly disturbing pointers on 'love' while observing their parents. (Ms. Hepburn, drawing on her dignity, manages to rise above the proceedings- but she has the monumental challenge of playing herself, ostensibly.) Everybody looks great, but so what? It's a movie and we can expect that much, if that's what you're looking for you'd be better off picking up a copy of Vogue.
Oh- and it has to be mentioned that Colleen Camp thoroughly annoys, even apart from her singing, which, while competent, is wholly unconvincing... the country and western numbers are woefully mismatched with the standards on the soundtrack. Surely this is NOT what Gershwin (who wrote the song from which the movie's title is derived) had in mind; his stage musicals of the 20's may have been slight, but at least they were long on charm. "They All Laughed" tries to coast on its good intentions, but nobody- least of all Peter Bogdanovich - has the good sense to put on the brakes.
Due in no small part to the tragic death of Dorothy Stratten, this movie has a special place in the heart of Mr. Bogdanovich- he even bought it back from its producers, then distributed it on his own and went bankrupt when it didn't prove popular. His rise and fall is among the more sympathetic and tragic of Hollywood stories, so there's no joy in criticizing the film... there _is_ real emotional investment in Ms. Stratten's scenes. But "Laughed" is a faint echo of "The Last Picture Show", "Paper Moon" or "What's Up, Doc"- following "Daisy Miller" and "At Long Last Love", it was a thundering confirmation of the phase from which P.B. has never emerged.
All in all, though, the movie is harmless, only a waste of rental. I want to watch people having a good time, I'll go to the park on a sunny day. For filmic expressions of joy and love, I'll stick to Ernest Lubitsch and Jaques Demy...
Well, I had seen "They all laughed" when it came out in
Europe around 1982 and had kept a vague but dear souvenir of it. I 've just seen it again on tape, almost twenty years after... Bogdanovich has a true heartfelt tenderness over his characters and a kind sympathy which is difficult not to feel also. Excellent comedians and actors, good lines all over and for everyone and pretty good editing, too. I laughed and smiled all the time. Just as we all do, at times. Go get it.
Screwball comedy about romantic mismatches in New York City. Peter Bogdanovich is obviously in love with all the women in his picture--he reveres them--yet Audrey Hepburn is (naturally) put a notch above the others because, after all, she's the princess Bogdanovich probably fell in love with at the movies 30 years prior. He shoots her in loving close-ups, gets right in the sheets between her and a wonderfully hard-boiled/soft-boiled Ben Gazzara, and allows her room to sparkle throughout. The love-connections made in the course of the film are fast and amusing, though I did tire of John Ritter's TV-styled klutziness. Colleen Camp, Dorothy Stratten, and the grounded, earthy-sensual Patti Hansen are all exciting to watch. But it's really Hepburn's valentine and she absolutely glows. *** from ****
Most of the major actors here do their best with not much to work with. The plot is nonsensical and way over the top. The dialogue seemed to be written by an amateur even though Peter Bogdanovich actually wrote it. This is supposed to be a romantic comedy. If so it's a comedy without any comedy and not much romance. The saving grace here is the nostalgic factor. Watching Audrey Hepburn and Ben Gazarra is a pleasure and in a different movie they may have further contributed to their impressive careers. In this mess, their scenes are impressive to watch precisely for their skill but what their characters do defies logic and you simply just don't buy it. John Ritter is very good and Dorothy Stratton holds her own because all she really has to do is look gorgeous. Collen Camp is, at best, mediocre and the weakest link in this cast. This film is only for film buffs who want to relive an era and marvel at the grace and charm of Ms. Hepburn. They may have all laughed but they weren't watching this movie when they did!!!
It was great to see some of my favorite stars of 30 years ago including
John Ritter, Ben Gazarra and Audrey Hepburn. They looked quite
wonderful. But that was it. They were not given any characters or good
lines to work with. I neither understood or cared what the characters
Some of the smaller female roles were fine, Patty Henson and Colleen Camp were quite competent and confident in their small sidekick parts. They showed some talent and it is sad they didn't go on to star in more and better films. Sadly, I didn't think Dorothy Stratten got a chance to act in this her only important film role.
The film appears to have some fans, and I was very open-minded when I started watching it. I am a big Peter Bogdanovich fan and I enjoyed his last movie, "Cat's Meow" and all his early ones from "Targets" to "Nickleodeon". So, it really surprised me that I was barely able to keep awake watching this one.
It is ironic that this movie is about a detective agency where the detectives and clients get romantically involved with each other. Five years later, Bogdanovich's ex-girlfriend, Cybil Shepherd had a hit television series called "Moonlighting" stealing the story idea from Bogdanovich. Of course, there was a great difference in that the series relied on tons of witty dialogue, while this tries to make do with slapstick and a few screwball lines.
Bottom line: It ain't no "Paper Moon" and only a very pale version of "What's Up, Doc".
I watched it some years ago. I remembered it as very mysterious
situations, and a mixture of melancholic things, like the fate of
Dorothy and the personal future of Bogdanovich.
I turn to watch on my VHS copy and then I was reviewing it more and more. Nowadays I am waiting for the DVD version, at any price, please!
The country and easy listening music is very well chosen from the very first second, a bit of blueish, but also happy.
All the characters are great to me, with funny situations, great acting and a lot of dialogs that have turn this as a cult movie to me and a lot of people I met on the Internet or cinema clubs. This may not be casualty.
I think that the title is a hope about life! You have to be happy and laugh as much as possible
I know that this may be a particular comment for the movie, but the fact is that I like it very much, I think that movie marked me and I will never forget it.
This film is worth watching. Screwball comedy stylings brought
ie 80's New York.
Perhaps this'll move some of you: it made Quentin Tarantino's list of his Top Ten Films of All-Time in 2002.
I can't believe that those praising this movie herein aren't thinking of some other film. I was prepared for the possibility that this would be awful, but the script (or lack thereof) makes for a film that's also pointless. On the plus side, the general level of craft on the part of the actors and technical crew is quite competent, but when you've got a sow's ear to work with you can't make a silk purse. Ben G fans should stick with just about any other movie he's been in. Dorothy S fans should stick to Galaxina. Peter B fans should stick to Last Picture Show and Target. Fans of cheap laughs at the expense of those who seem to be asking for it should stick to Peter B's amazingly awful book, Killing of the Unicorn.
They All Laughed (1981)
Peter Bogdanovich had directed two real classics of 1970s American Cinema before this one, The Last Picture Show and Paper Moon. Both are heartfelt, somewhat romanticized, and sensitive movies. That's all I knew of him before seeing They All Laughed, and I was surprised at the choppy, slight, throwaway quality to it all. The acting varies hugely from John Ritter being vaguely comic to Audrey Hepburn (yes!) being vaguely Audrey Hepburn. Ritter is used too much and Hepburn not enough. Ben Gazzara can be terrific but here he is supposed to be the stellar ladies man, cool and profound and worldly, and he doesn't pull it off, which becomes an embarrassment. Add some minor characters really struggling, and you begin to think it isn't the acting, but the directing, that keeps it from taking off.
There are several layered plots at work here, and the stuttered construction might have held water with more pieces intact. But more to the point might be the basic premise of the plot or plots. There is genuine adolescent girl watching (and drooling), there is an adult love affair that doesn't quite make sense, there is a crime or two at work behind the scenes (and taxis and helicopters and such). It's cobbled together and filmed rather routinely and in general leaves you feeling disoriented and sorry you got involved. Yeah, that disappointing.
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