Compare Offers on Amazon
+ CDN$ 3.49 shipping
The Loved One (Sous-titres français) [Import]
In olden days, as Cole Porter famously observed, a mere glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking. So it's heartening to report that this 1965 black comedy still delivers on its billing as "the motion picture with something to offend everyone." Tony Richardson, fresh off the liberating Tom Jones, brings Evelyn Waugh's self-described "little nightmare" to the screen with all its sacrilegious shocks (and then some!) intact, courtesy of screenwriters Terry Southern (Dr. Strangelove) and Christopher Isherwood. Robert Morse stars as Dennis Barlow, an Englishman abroad and a fish out of water in Southern California. Stumbling across the Hollywood landscape like a cross between Candide and Jerry Lewis. Barlow gets a unique perspective of the American experience when he finds employment at the Happier Hunting Ground, a ramshackle pet cemetery, and the flipside of the fabulously vulgar Whispering Glades. In a virtuoso dual role, Jonathan Winters costars as glad-handing Happier Hunting Grounds proprietor Harry, whose brother, Whispering Glades' Blessed Reverend, has some out-of-this-world plans for the "Loved Ones." The mad, mad, mad mad cast also includes John Gielgud as Dennis's ill-fated expatriate uncle, an artist unceremoniously booted from the movie studio where he has worked for 31 years; Anjanette Comer as Aimee, a Whispering Glades cosmetician torn between Dennis and embalmer Mr. Joyboy (an unforgettable Rod Steiger), who registers his broken heart on the faces of his corpses; a teenage Paul Williams as a science prodigy; Liberace as a funeral salesman peddling eternal flames both "perpetual or standard"; Milton Berle and Margaret Leighton as "a typical well-adjusted American couple" whose deceased dog puts a crimp in their dinner plans; and even Jamie Farr, seen fleetingly as a waiter. The Loved One anticipates the "New Hollywood" with its naturalistic cinematography by Haskell Wexler (Medium Cool) and "anything goes" sensibility (the dinner scene with Joyboy and his obese mother would not be out of place in a John Waters movie). By turns creepy and grotesquely funny, The Loved One will bury you. --Donald Liebenson --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Top Customer Reviews
The laughs keep coming in this black comedy that is, at times, irreverent and even grotesque. It's fun to see people like Milton Berle and Liberace pop up in scenes guaranteed to make you either guffaw or shudder, depending on how you feel about the American death business. Robert Morse (just before his starred in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying) is very funny and likeable even though his British accent comes and goes - or maybe because of it. His wide-eyed innocence and cleverness connects all the wacky subplots. Steiger is unforgettable as the fussy, mother-loving embalmer, all the funnier because he usually played such serious, dramatic parts.
This is probably not a good choice for someone going through the grief process, but everyone else will find this macabre story wickedly funny. It was advertised as "the movie with something to offend everyone" (pet lovers may cringe a bit), and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Talent abounds here. Start with a great director in Tony Richardson (Tom Jones, A Delicate Balance, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, The Entertainer, etc) who is the perfect choice for such a project. Have Christopher Isherwood and Terry Southern adapt the screenplay from a wonderful Evelyn Waugh novel. Assemble a perfect cast, including James Coburn and Dana Andrews, Milton Berle, Tab Hunter, Roddy McDowall, Margaret Leighton and Liberace (unforgettably!) in cameo roles. Feature the likes of Rod Steiger (why didn't he try more comedy? He's brilliant here!), John Gielgud, Jonathan Winters in memorable supporting roles and top it off with excellent leads in Robert Morse and Anjanette Comer (both relative unknowns at the time, but perfect for the roles).
How could the movie not be memorable?
Suffice it to say it holds up amazingly well after almost 40 years. It has to rank as one of the great classic comedies of the sixties.
The plot revolves around a young English twit named Dennis Barlow (Morse) who shows up at his uncle's (Gielgud's) doorstep, having won his air passage to LAX through some absurd stroke of luck. He has no money and his gregarious uncle takes him in and introduces him to the expatriated Brits that inhabit LA. Chief among these is the snobbish Sir Ambrose Abercrombe (Morley) who takes an instant dislike to Barlow, whom he feels doesn't adequately represent the proper English gentleman (and he doesn't). In short order, Uncle Francis is canned by his crass Hollywood Studio boss (McDowall), in spite of the fact that he has been a faithful employee for 30 years. Unwilling to face the future at his advanced age, Uncle Francis hangs himself beside the decrepit pool that represents his sagging fortunes.
It's at this stage that the movie shifts satirical gears and the humor gets darker and darker. Waugh's study of American mores and materialistic mindset as represented by the funeral industry is brilliantly captured by the screnwriters, director and cast. It's a great ensemble effort from a once in a lifetime creative team. THE LOVED ONE deserves a broad DVD release, hopefully in the not too distant future.
Screenwriter Terry Southern (with the equally brilliant Christopher Isherwood) are the true stars here, having drafted and crafted a movie that's both truly disturbing and hilarious. One of Southern's finest film scripts (a worthy equal to his Dr Strangelove and Easy Rider scripts), The Loved One is an unjustly ignored and forgotten gem from a time when smart comedies were not only critically lauded but publically applauded. Demand the release on DVD!
I write this with the hope that someone out there is adding up the votes for a DVD release. I'll also add that the long out of print "Catalogue of Cool" dubbed 1962 " The Last Good Year." After that...well, we lost a lot of our wit, charm, whimsy, humanity, and creativity to Viet Nam, Watergate, and all the other dreariness--from Reaganism to Political Correctness--that led up to this uniquely ugly moment in history. There were a lot of sharp films made in the late Fifties to early Sixties that had qualities sadly lacking since--check out Wilder's "One, Two, Three" or "Inherit the Wind." One reviewer notes that "The Loved One" is black comedy without the nihilism. I agree and that's kind of what I mean. This era of film deserves a re-examination and we could all probably learn a lot from it.
Story from friend who worked on it: Gielgud was shooting his little monologue, a parody of the "This sceptered isle" speech, and a crew member directly in his line of sight thoughtfully picked his nose throughout. Gielgud finished the take, paused so it could be cut, then said, "Dear boy, when the knuckles of your finger reach the bridge of your nose, wave."