Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cinema Tuesdays {A Guide for the Married Man}

Walter Matthau plays Paul, an accountant heading towards middle-age.
He's got a lovely ranch home in the suburbs, furnished in the popular trends of mustard and brown, wall to wall carpeting, wood panelling and with just a hint of the upcoming Seventies trend (or plague if you like) of avocado.
And an adoring, blonde wife who wears a bikini on the weekends.
Together they have a perfect blonde child, who never throws a fit.
In other words, Paul has it all. But there's just one problem...
Maybe it's the secretaries around the office, or the working girls he sees driving to work and how they all seem to wear short skirts and have wicker handbags.
But Paul has developed the Seven Year Itch, so to speak, and he thinks he might like to scratch it. I forgot to mention, but Mr. Kelly does direct this film, but he doesn't appear in it :(
Fortunately, his best friend Ed is an old hand at the delicate art of never letting your wife find out that you've been sneaking out to motels with no luggage in the afternoon.
As you can see, Ed is always prepared. Robert Morse is really really good at playing Ed, you'd never think that he is the same person who plays Bert Cooper.
Ed tells Paul that it's important to cheat on your wife in order to release these urges, otherwise they might end up like the character played by Wally Cox, who suddenly started attacking everything in a skirt after fifteen years of marriage and right in the middle of lunch too!
So Ed reasons that they are saving their marriages and the little woman will never need to know, in fact she will probably thank you if she did know.
Actually, this is the only thing which the suburban wives talk about at their dinner parties. There's a lot of unmoving bubble hair in this film, and probably in the next season of Mad Men too. Has anyone ever tried helmet hair? What's it like?
Anyway, Paul really likes his next door neighbour, Mrs. Johnson and her beaded dress.
He also doesn't mind his secretary. Love how her hair and skirt matches.
Ed says that Mrs. Johnson and his secretary are bad ideas. After all, they have his wife's phone number.
Instead Ed sets out to give Paul some useful advice before he sets Paul loose into the world of girls. Ed as learned all that he knows from stories that all begin with "There was this guy..." and this is where the film's technical advisors come in. A small selection of which are:

Lucille Ball and her matching chesterfield and curtains.
Phil Silvers
Terry-Thomas and Jayne Mansfield, who cross-dresses in her segment.
The brilliant Jack Benny playing Jack Benny. I love Jack Benny, he took twenty years to tell one joke.
In the funniest segment, Carl Reiner plays the Great Big Movie Star who chases a starlet with a dozen pairs of cool sunglasses around the world without his wife finding out about it.
But my favourite is the one where Joey Bishop demonstrates how effective one word can be.
Then there are also practical tips for the date itself, such as how to pick the perfect restaurant and motel,
what to do when your date's lipstick and perfume aren't the same as your wife's,
and how to destroy evidence and where to keep the spare shirt. Paul's solution is much cleverer than Don Draper's drawer at the office.
Ed also tells Paul that the perfect date is the recently divorced woman who's alimony is higher than your salary. Guess who Paul's new fashionable client is?
So Paul and the Divorcee go on a couple of business lunches. I love decorating with those wine bottles, they make good book ends and I have a set of small ones that double as novelty salt and pepper shakers.

They also work on her taxes. What do you think of the frosted coral nail polish? I know that it was quite popular, but it always seemed to me that the women who would wear it today are the sort of people to go to Florida for the winter and still have their living room furniture covered in plastic.
So, does Paul enjoy his motel room with the chenille bedspread
or does he go home to his wife?
The movie was made in 1967, so you can see the beginning of the transition into the post-Code era of film making. For example, there are some see-through night gowns and a lot of T&A shots.
However, there are still twin beds and the language is quite clean (it is an American film after all) and all adulterers are still punished. But it is still quite interesting to catch glimpses of what American films in the Seventies will be like.

1 comment:

Jessica Cangiano said...

Your movie reviews are simply the best! I love the effort and thought you put into them and appreciate the absolute plethora of images you provide for each film. Each time you post a new movie review, I add another "must watch" to my vintage/retro movie list! :)

Thank you dearly for your many wonderful comments this week, sweet friend, I just adore it when you stop by for a visit!

Oodles of hugs,
♥ Jessica