There's a Mike Nichols and Elaine May LP sketch about psychiatry (she's the libidinous doctor, he's the patient) from around the same time that manages to do in three minutes what this movie fails to accomplish in an hour and a half: make hilarious sport of the sexual undercurrents implicit in the doctor-patient relationship. This one's done in by a stagy screenplay derived from a hit Broadway sex comedy of the day, an ugly production, and some howlers of miscasting. David Niven's supposed to be a promising young psychiatrist; he's 50 and looks it, and he's mismatched against Barbara Rush as his fiancée, an ostensibly adorable sprite who comes off as grating by today's standards. Dan Dailey (rather good, despite formidable odds) is an "amusingly" alcoholic stage star married to Ginger Rogers, who -- interestingly, given her starring role in "Lady in the Dark" years before -- once again is the woman on the couch who needs to be dominated by an alpha male to be happy. Tony Randall, in what could be considered a warmup for Felix Unger, is the sniveling, fussy, paranoid anhedoniac mixed up in this mixed-up crowd. Writer-director Johnson tries to slam the laughs across, lapsing into overwritten, over-directed fantasy scenes (though it's fun to see Rogers framed by an aluminum-foil halo, like a child in a Christmas pageant) and easy happy endings for nearly all concerned that one doesn't buy for a minute. And, typical of big studio comedies of the time, the characters drink and drink, which is supposed to be hilarious, and meet via unconvincing coincidences (Randall just happens to look up Rush the same night that Dailey does; both just happen to have had flings with her years before; both have just met Niven that very day, who's supposed to sail with her on a honeymoon cruise the next day; etc.). Interesting for the sociology, I guess, as psychiatry was going mainstream, and middle American audiences could chortle at the zany, immature doings of this allegedly smart, cosmopolitan set. But it's a pretty leaden comedy, even by the not-high standards of the time.
8 of 12 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this