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.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Comedy 1: A New Kind Of Love, an old kind of movie

We have been looking at some '60s romantic comedies recently - see reviews of SEX AND THE SINGLE GIRL, PRUDENCE AND THE PILL, GOODBYE CHARLIE etc- 60s/comedy labels. Now for one I dimly remember seeing the trailer for, but not seen until now .... A NEW KIND OF LOVE from 1963, which had the bright idea of sending Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward to Paris, and glam frumpy Joanne up, throw in Thelma Ritter to wisecrack a bit, and - the masterstroke - add in Maurice Chevalier "as himself" to sing some of his hits like "Mimi". So far, so excruciating ..... then there are all the hideous fashions - Joanne couldn't wear more hideous outfts or wigs. So, what went wrong?

The fashion industry and Paris provide the setting for a comedy surrounding the mistaken impression that Joanne Woodward is a high-priced call girl. Paul Newman is the journalist interviewing her for insights on her profession.

This after all is written and directed by Melville Shavelson, who did some delightful '50s comedies that still work now, like HOUSEBOAT and IT STARTED IN NAPLES, both showcasing Sophia Loren perfectly. But it seems that, like Billy Wilder, he too was stranded as the '60s took off and he suddenly appeared dated. The Newmans were probably looking for a change of pace - they had already done Paris seriously in PARIS BLUES for Martin Ritt in 1961, and comedy in RALLY ROUND THE FLAG BOYS in 1958 (review at Newman label). But this romantic comedy set in Paris falls very flat like champagne that has lost its zing. 
They seem to be aiming for the light Rock and Doris touch - but Newman (unlike Rock or Tony Curtis) seems very charmless in these kind of roles (but then I never found him that particularly interesting) while Joanne - who was it who coined her "the duchess of dowbeat"? - starts off as the 25-year-old old maid in fashion publishing with pencils in her spikey hair and always in dark glasses. She has devoted herself to her career instead of bagging a husband - he is the wolf journalist sent to cover their Paris show.   
Later she has a transformation as he thinks she is a high-class call girl - then the Rock and Doris confrontation with the roles switched - he knows she isn't as she gets ready to go through with their seduction scene, but even that is muffled here. Its all gratingly old-fashioned, even for 1963, as the swinging decade was about to take off. With Eva Gabor, and Sinatra sings the title song. Woodward seems much more at home with material like THE STRIPPER (Woodward label) or THE LONG HOT SUMMER or even those Fox films like THE SOUND AND THE FURY or NO DOWN PAYMENT. She just seems simply at sea here. 

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