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Newly arrived in Hollywood from England, Dennis Barlow finds he has to arrange his uncle's interment at the highly-organised and very profitable Whispering Glades funeral parlour. His fancy is caught by one of their cosmeticians, Aimee Thanatogenos. But he has three problems - the strict rules of owner Blessed Reverand Glenworthy, the rivalry of embalmer Mr Joyboy, and the shame of now working himself at The Happy Hunting Ground pets' memorial home.Written by
Jeremy Perkins <email@example.com>
At the advance screening for studio execs, many were so offended that they walked out before this movie ended. This greatly pleased Tony Richardson, as it was precisely the effect he was hoping to have on "old Hollywood" types. See more »
Henry's voice says "Will", whereas his mouth appears to say "Jack". See more »
Tony Richardson's "The Loved One" was seen recently courtesy of TCM. The film seems to have been forgotten by MGM, who didn't promote it the way it deserved when it was released. It's a tribute to Mr. Richardson that "The Loved One" should be discovered by appreciative fans that haven't have a chance to see this masterpiece by one of the cinema's most under appreciated master: Tony Richardson.
This acerbic satire about the funeral business was written by Evelyn Waugh, an Englishman who saw the excesses about the art of preparing "the loved ones" for their final send off into eternity. The magnificent screen play is credited to Terry Southern and Christopher Isherwood, although other writers were also involved in its adaptation. The brilliant black and white cinematography by Haskell Wexler still has original crispness in the copy that was shown, which might have been because of a DVD format we saw.
The story is seen through Dennis Barlow,a young Englishman who comes to L.A. for a visit. He looks for his uncle, Sir Francis Hinsley, who works for a movie studio. Sir Francis moves among the English expatriates that had a love/hate relationship with the film industry, but who had better lives than in England. At least, in Los Angeles, they were seen as a rarity with tremendous panache, in sharp contrast with the uneducated heads of studios and so-called stars.
When Sir Francis dies in tragic circumstances, the Brits decide to appoint young Dennis to select the proper way to bury him. That's how Dennis comes to Whispering Glades, the ultimate resting place for the privileged and the famous. To say he suffers culture shock, is to put it mildly. Nothing prepares him for the excesses he sees in the place, that is being run by the mysterious Rev. Wilbur Glenworthy. It's here that he meets and falls in love with Aimee, the girl that is promoted to be the first woman embalmer. He is shown about what to order by the unctuous Mr. Sarles who wants him to pick the best the place has to offer. Dennis is also puzzled by the way the embalmer, Mr. Joyboy, has prepared Sir Francis for his friends to see him at the place.
Dennis, not having a job, is recruited by Henry Glenworthy in helping with the pet cemetery. He meets enough weirdos to last a lifetime. Henry, a businessman himself, decides to add a novel way to send the pets skyward by hiring young Gunther. The devilish Rev. Wilbur sees the invention and wants it for Whispering Glades. In an incredible finale, young Gunther achieves greatness by creating the send off to end all send offs.
The amazing thing about "The Loved One" is the performances Tony Richardson got out of all the actors in the film. Robert Morse is Dennis, a naive in the land of fantasy. Jonathan Winters playing dual roles of Henry and Wilbur Glenworthy, is in top form. Rod Steiger as the mad embalmer, Mr. Joyboy, has one of the best moments of his career. Anjanette Comer shows an affinity for Aimee. John Gielgud makes a wonderful Sir Francis. Paul Williams is young Gunther. But Liberace, who wasn't known as an actor, makes a devastating appearance as the salesman in the Whispering Glades showroom, the man who wants to offer nothing but the best for "the loved one" in his final appearance.
One can only wish "The Loved One" is seen by a lot of movie fans, as this is a tribute to the man who directed it: Tony Richardson.
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