LOVE AND PAIN AND THE WHOLE DAMN THING. After Liza Minnelli in THE STERILE CUCKOO (or POOKIE) in 1969 and Jane Fonda as Bree in KLUTE, 1971, Alan J Pakula was THE director for actresses in fascinating films, and it is Maggie Smith’s turn here in 1972. At the time Smith could do no wrong after her MISS BRODIE hit, and stage successes at the National Theatre (HEDDA GABLER directed by Ingmar Bergman, THE BEAU’S STRATAGEM - both of which I saw twice, we saw her on the stage a lot in those 70s years) so why not an oddball romantic comedy, scripted by Alvin Sargent and directed by Alan J Pakula?
The film though proved too oddball and I have never had a chance to re-see it until now (thanks, tim) … Timothy Bottoms (big after THE LAST PICTURE SHOW but not particularly charismatic) is the repressed young guy on holiday in Spain who wants to get away from his family of over-achievers, and she is the 37 year old repressed spinster – who may have a fatal disease. Both are kindred spirits and lonely souls, but it is rather excruciating watching them finally get together, with slapkstick scenes which do not work at all, like her being trapped in an outdoor toilet and getting toilet paper wrapped all around her legs …. At least the real Spain looks ideal here, well 40 years ago … finally, it does not end, but mercifully just stops.
Dame Maggie has of course provided for her pension with the HARRY POTTER films and her enjoyable turns in DOWNTON ABBEY (via GOSFORD PARK), though we loathe her 'old folk' films like MARIGOLD HOTEL (there is a second one soon) and QUARTET - as per my reviews at Smith label.
Next: a great actor: Albert Finney in Huston's UNDER THE VOLCANO.