Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Summer fun: 40 Carats

40 CARATS did not appeal to 27 year old me 40 years ago back in 1973, and its hardly shown its face here since, but thanks to Colin for sending me this, which is a delightful treat at this remove. 

A forty year old woman vacationing in Greece meets a twenty-two year old, also on vacation. They spend the night together and she leaves him while he was sleeping. She then returns to New York and she is stunned to learn that her daughter's boyfriend is him. He then pursues her, and she is uncertain of what to do. 

It was a successful play of course with the kind of role those ladies in their 40s would have relished - one could picture Jean Simmons doing it, Julie Harris did, and maybe Lauren Bacall? Everyone, including Sophia Loren, was suggested for the film, but it went to Liv Ullmann and seeing her again here playing comedy one realises how marvellous she is, as she can - and did - play everything. We admired her in those Bergman movies like PERSONA, AUTUMN SONATA, CRIES & WHISPERS, FACE TO FACE. Jan Troell's THE EMIGRANTS etc, but her other films (POPE JOAN - Trash label, the dreaded LOST HORIZON remake, etc) did not know what to do with her. 
Here though she is pleasingly real and makes her cardboard character one to care about. She does not overact, as in the scene where she meets again the young man she left sleeping in Greece - and the scenes with her family sparkle. Binnie Barnes at 70 (her last movie role, she died aged 95 in 1998 and was the producer's wife) is simply wonderful as her mother - and she certainly tears up the dance floor!, Deborah Raffin is the daughter, and Gene Kelly - not as annoying as I imagined he would be, and with someone else's hair on his head, is admirable too as her ex-husband - I last saw him as Natalie Wood's older guy in the 1958 MARJORIE MORNINGSTAR last week .... and I see him all the time with those LES GIRLS - he signed a biography on him for me in 1975. 

The young guy Peter is Edward Albert, a pleasing performer here (his father Eddie is back in cinemas now too in the re-issued ROMAN HOLIDAY as the photographer sidekick of Gregory Peck). Albert had scored also the previous year 1972 in that other filmed Broadway play BUTTERFLIES ARE FREE and no I did not want to see that then either, being sniffy about such popular entertainments. 40 CARATS works itself out nicely with some nicely amusing moments, and that gruesome visit to Peter's duplicitious parents - did I mention Nancy Walker in full Themla Ritter mode as Liv's secretary at the office?  
It all reminded me of that other filmed Broadway comedy hit CACTUS FLOWER in 1969 (which made us love Ingrid Bergman all over again) - produced as well as 40 CARATS, BUTTERFLIES ARE FREE and others by Mike Frankovich (he also produced trash classics like THE LOVE MACHINE and DOCTORS' WIVES). So, its an ideal summer movie and to my surprise, I liked it a lot - good score by Michel Legrand, scripted by Jay Presson Allen and Leonard Gershe, and directed by Milton Katselas. Edward Albert died in 2006 aged 55, we recently also saw him as the son of THE GREEK TYCOON - Trash label.


  1. I was finally able to catch this after missing it originally in the theatre and thought it was cute if ordinary. Liv and Edward were fine in the leads but I had sought it out for Binnie Barnes, an actress I've always found enchanting and unique so of course as was the case with Glynis Johns too Hollywood had no idea what niche to create for her. She was worth the wait, I completely enjoyed her performance and it made me regret anew that she had such a limited career.

  2. Binnie Barnes was in movies since the early '30s, and we saw her in some of them over the years, but she is a powerhouse here at 70. I dare say being Mrs Franovich ensured she got the part of Liv's mother - being married to the producer always helps! Good she lived to be 95.

    I like Glynis Johns a lot too - she is still with us too at 90. Regarding 40 CARATS sad that Albert and Deborah Raffin both died quite young.