Monday, August 23, 2010

Aw come-on, Steve, you don't want to marry Eunice.

It's been a tradition on my birthday that I get to swat the ankle-biters away from the television and watch a favorite movie undisturbed. Usually Kind Hearts and Coronets or American Dreamer ("I'm Rebecca Ryan, and I can drink any man here under the table.") Feeling guilty about slanging off Peter Bogdanovich's early works in this blog -- and desperately needing a laugh this year -- I choose What's Up, Doc? (1972), co-written by the mighty Buck Henry.

Farce, screwball, romcom, slapstick . . . It never dates, it never fails. Flawless casting, flawless timing. Was Barbra Streisand ever more appealing? (And yet, she's fairly dismissive of this movie, even on the commentary. She needn't be.) Please don't do a remake with Jennifer Aniston.*

Streisand's character, Judi Maxwell, makes a habit of stepping into the street without looking, causing traffic accidents. Apparently, Bogdanovich decided to add a fender-bender at short notice, when there were no stunt cars lined up. So he sent a crew member to a car rental agency, with instructions to get two cars with maximum collision insurance, filmed the scene, and then returned the wrecked vehicles.

*Jennifer, if you're reading this: Give up movies and run away with me! With your millions, I could easily keep you in the manner to which you've become accustomed.

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