Porter Stoddard is a well-known New York architect who is at a crossroads... a nexus where twists and turns lead to myriad missteps, some with his wife Ellie, others with longtime friends ...
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A suicidally disillusioned liberal politician puts a contract out on himself and takes the opportunity to be bluntly honest with his voters by affecting the rhythms and speech of hip-hop music and culture.
Porter Stoddard is a well-known New York architect who is at a crossroads... a nexus where twists and turns lead to myriad missteps, some with his wife Ellie, others with longtime friends Mona and her husband Griffin. Deciding which direction to take often leads to unexpected encounters with hilarious consequences. Written by
Sarah Lean <Sarah.Lean@talk21.com>
Eugenie tells Porter that her father won the gold medal in the biathlon at the 1952 Winter Olympics. There was no biathlon at the 1952 Games. The biathlon, developed from military patrol (a team event held in four prior Olympics), debuted as an individual event at the 1960 Games. See more »
I remembered seeing the advertisement for this movie at my local theater when it came out. But I was unaware of the nightmare it was to film it & release it; all I did know was that it was in & out of the theater faster than COOL AS ICE. I had no idea this movie even existed until I read James Robert Parish's book FIASCO, which has a chapter on the making of TOWN & COUNTRY...and which, rest assured, is more funny & believable than what shows up on the screen.
After searching relatively high & low to find this movie (it was released on DVD, but logically, stores do not exactly keep a copy on hand), I watched it knowing about its history & that chances are, I would likely want to throw things at the screen. I am glad to say I made it through the first viewing alive, but will start by saying that no, this movie is not a winner in the slightest. Yet is it an all-around creative bomb? Not so fast.
Starting to film without a complete script was the oldest mistake in the book & they made it. Yet while it may have been a patchwork effort without much rhyme or reason, some lines were funny & rather inspired (most of them coming from Garry Shandling, who almost walks away with the movie, such as it is). Maybe having mature, veteran actors mouth some of the more scatological dialogue (as if this was supposed to be a senior's version of American PIE) was not wise, but that is often funny to watch in itself. Diane Keaton's line near the end, "Is there any women in this room you haven't slept with?", could easily be what audiences have been wondering for years.
The only thing the script missed was continuity & structure, and all that showed on the screen, resulting in a film that looked & acted choppy, with many characters played by big names being reduced to glorified cameos, making you wonder if there is a lot left on the cutting room floor (but we cannot blame the editor for all that, seeing as how they did not have much to work with).
The producers should have been well aware that working with Warren Beatty, a famously noncommittal perfectionist, was not going to be clear sailing. Part of (if not all) the script problems can be laid at his door, since he kept insisting on changes to the dialogue, taking up time & (most obviously) money. And of course, Warren was in his early 60s when he made this movie, playing the same old Casanova he always did. Audiences, most especially the young people who make up a large part of who goes to the movies, are not going to buy that anymore, or are unwilling to try. The studio should have saw this in the beginning & realized the chances of a box office success were slim to none, and thus rein in the budget before it went haywire.
After reading Parish's book & seeing just how things went bad with TOWN & COUNTRY, I rather think a movie about the making of a movie like TOWN & COUNTRY would have been better (and with all the same actors). What went on behind the scenes was funny & screwball in itself, and most of all, it was not even scripted at all. There was potential for a movie like TOWN & COUNTRY, but if a script had been agreed on before the cameras started rolling, then the financial fallout would not have been so large. As it remains now, it is one of the biggest box-office duds in Hollywood history, and the chances of it ever turning a profit are almost nonexistent (just think about inflation).
Final thoughts: For what it was worth, the actors gave it their best shot with this movie, never once placing tongue firmly in cheek with their parts (though, by all accounts, that would have improved things). I am not sure if anyone of them knew they were making something special.
A good portion of the script was actually funny, but whenever it tried to get serious & make some kind of statement about infidelity & morality, it went downhill from there. Even the much-bandied-about ending is so artificial & predictable, you can see it coming from a mile away. More of a cop-out & a feeling of "Let's just finish this thing already!"
Most of the people involved in making this movie have survived professionally, but only time will tell how Warren Beatty fares (that is, if he makes another movie again). Hopefully, the TOWN & COUNTRY incident awoke him to the fact he needs to finally revise (or abandon altogether) his stock character if he ever wants to work regularly & be taken seriously again.
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